Bally Sports, the Sinclair Broadcasting owned collection of regional sports networks (RSN), has launched its own streaming service, called Bally Sports+. Should you sign up?
Table of Contents
- Diamond Sports Group Bankruptcy
- How Bally Sports came to be
- You can watch these teams on Bally Sports+
- You can’t watch these teams on Bally Sports+
- Is Bally Sports competing with DIRECTV STREAM?
- Problems with Bally Sports+ as a standalone service
- Bally Sports Plus makes sense as an add-on
- Complete list of Bally Sports RSNs
Diamond Sports Group Bankruptcy
Readers should take note that the impending bankruptcy of Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of Bally Sports+, could cause an interruption in service for Bally Sports+ subscribers. At this time, we don’t recommend that cord cutters add Bally Sports+.
In this Bally Sports+ review, I will offer the pros and cons of paying $20 per month just for access to your local Bally Sports RSN, but first some background.
How Bally Sports came to be
All of the 21 Bally Sports RSNs used to be owned by 21st Century Fox and branded as FOX Sports RSNs. To this day, fans who aren’t aware of the new branding search topics like “how can I watch FOX Sports Southeast?”
Unfortunately, the old FOX sports channels have been retired, although the programming is largely identical under the new branding.
When Disney acquired large chunks of 21st Century Fox in 2019, the Justice Department required the sale of the FOX Sports regional sports networks portfolio so as not to consolidate too much sports programming with one mega corporation (Disney owns ABC and ESPN). Disney sold the stations to Sinclair Broadcasting for 10.6 billion, who then promptly rebranded the stations to be named after the Bally casino chain.
Disney sold YES Network, the local TV home of the Yankees and Nets, to both Sinclair and Amazon in a separate 3.5 billion dollar deal, that set the table for the very unpopular Amazon Yankees broadcasts. You can’t watch the Yankees, or the YES Network, on Bally Sports Plus.
You can watch these teams on Bally Sports+
Here are some popular franchises you can watch on Bally Sports+ in-market:
Is Bally Sports competing with DIRECTV STREAM?
Sinclair charges media companies for the rights to air its RSN broadcasts to local fans in the form of carriage fees. However, presumably due to cost, several Live TV streaming services dropped the Bally Sports RSNs, leaving DIRECTV STREAM as the only platform that carries all of the Bally Sports RSNs.
DIRECTV STREAM offers regional sports networks in its expensive “Choice” package.
In many markets, like Detroit and Milwaukee, DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” is the only option for watching local NBA, MLB, and NHL action. Cord cutting fans in these markets have to shell out $89.99 for DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” or miss most of their team’s regular season.
Bally Sports+ was launched to compete with DIRECTV STREAM “Choice,” the idea being that some fans would rather subscribe to Bally Sports+ for $20 per month than pay $89.99 for DIRECTV STREAM.
Or, viewed another way, the cost of Bally Sports+ represents the difference between a DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” subscription and the cost of subscribing to a base package with fuboTV, YouTube TV, or Hulu + Live TV, which are DIRECTV STREAM’s main competitors.
DTV “Choice” is $89.99 per month, whereas fuboTV’s base offering is $69.99, so adding Bally Sports+ to a fuboTV account is the same cost per month as a DTV “Choice” package.
Problems with Bally Sports+ as a standalone service
As a standalone option, Bally Sports+ won’t satisfy most sports fans.
Bally Sports+ Pros
Bally Sports+ Cons
- Limited to one channel
- No access to the biggest games
- No football and non-sports programming
- Lack of supported devices
You only get one channel
First, by signing up for Bally Sports+, you don’t get access to the entire Bally Sports RSN library, the broadcasts are still subject to regional restrictions, so the platform is a live streaming service that only offers one channel to in-market fans.
You miss most of the big games
Next, because Bally Sports+ only has rights to regular season and a handful of early playoff games, subscribing to Bally Sports+ is like watching an entire series without access to the final episodes. If your team makes a playoff run, you can’t watch the games on Bally Sports+. Similarly, when your team appears in a nationally televised game, like Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, or the NBA on TNT, you can’t watch the games on Bally Sports+.
No football and non-sports programming
Last, you can’t watch NFL, college football, or any non-sports related programming on Bally Sports+. Households who want to live stream college football and NFL games all weekend long are out of luck with Bally Sports+, and members of your family who don’t watch sports are left out in the cold.
For those reasons, I wouldn’t sign up for the platform.
Stream quality issues and lack of supported devices
Early adopters of Bally Sports Plus have reported issues with the picture quality on Reddit. Consider this comment from a Bally Sports Plus user in Detroit, one of the markets where Bally Sports Plus first rolled out.
For anyone considering this, it’s worth knowing that the video streaming quality through the Bally Sports app is noticeably worse than Apple TV, MLB TV, ESPN+ streams etc. It’s not even HD quality. I’d also recommend seeing if your streaming devices are supported.presciptionwater on reddit
The supported device issue is also a major problem. It really looks like the app has been created with a mobile first approach which will frustrate cord cutters who want to stream Bally Sports Plus in their living rooms. For example, it appears Roku and Samsung devices are not yet supported. According to the Bally Sports Plus FAQ page, these devices are supported:
BallySports.com, mobile and tablet (iOS, Android), tvOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. Bally Sports+ will be coming soon to additional platforms.Bally Sports Plus FAQ page
Bally Sports Plus makes sense as an add-on
If you’re deciding on a Bally Sports+ subscription, what it really comes down to are 4 questions:
- Do you want to watch NFL or college football?
- Is watching your team’s big games, including the playoffs, important to you?
- Do members of your household want to watch non-sports programming?
- Is the $20 per month worth adding on to a platform that doesn’t carry Bally Sports RSNs, like fuboTV or YouTube TV?
For most fans, the platform won’t offer enough as a standalone service, however, when you factor in the cost of DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” versus the cost of competing live TV streaming services, Bally Sports+ makes a lot of sense. Rather than selling access to RSNs to live TV streaming services who don’t want to pay Sinclair’s carriage fees, Bally Sports went direct to consumer with an offering that approximates on cost what it seems DTV needs to charge its subscribers to profitably carry Bally Sports RSNs.
After all, if cord cutters are willing to pay $20 per month for the YouTube TV 4K add-on, maybe they are willing to add-on a Bally Sports RSN in order to have a better range of streaming choices in their local market.
Complete list of Bally Sports RSNs
|DIRECTV STREAM – Choice||ESPN Plus||Fubo||Hulu + Live TV||Paramount+||Sling Orange & Blue||YouTube TV|
|Bally Sports Arizona|
|Bally Sports Carolinas|
|Bally Sports Detroit|
|Bally Sports Florida|
|Bally Sports Great Lakes|
|Bally Sports Indiana|
|Bally Sports Kansas City|
|Bally Sports Midwest|
|Bally Sports New Orleans|
|Bally Sports North|
|Bally Sports Ohio|
|Bally Sports Oklahoma|
|Bally Sports San Diego|
|Bally Sports SoCal|
|Bally Sports South|
|Bally Sports Southeast|
|Bally Sports Southwest|
|Bally Sports Sun|
|Bally Sports Tennessee|
|Bally Sports West|
|Bally Sports Wisconsin|
$99.99 / month
$9.99 / month
$74.99 / month
$69.99 / month
$4.99 / month
$50 / month
$72.99 / month