After starting in 5 test markets, Bally Sports Plus has announced its full rollout scheduled for September 26th. If you live in a market with a Bally Sports Plus regional sports network (RSN), you can now watch local broadcasts on the app.
Before I get into why the success of Bally Sports Plus could be tied to the price of DIRECTV STREAM “Choice,” let’s address some basics for cord cutters who aren’t yet up to speed.
Bally Sports Plus is a direct to consumer streaming app that allows MLB, NBA, and NHL fans to watch the regular seasons of their favorite local pro sports teams on Bally Sports RSNs without signing up for DIRECTV STREAM’s “Choice” plan or a cable provider who carries the channels.
With DIRECTV STREAM (which is owned by AT&T) as the exception, Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of Bally Sports, couldn’t reach terms with most live TV streaming services for rights to its Bally Sports lineup of channels, and most dropped the programming altogether.
This left sports fans in Bally Sports markets with very few good options other than the expensive DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” package.
Bally Sports RSNs were becoming harder to watch
For example, if you live in Detroit and want to watch the Pistons, Tigers or Red Wings, Bally Sports Detroit is the only in-market option for streaming the majority of regular season games, and until Bally Sports Plus, DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” was the only option for watching Bally Sports Detroit live online.
As cable providers in Dallas dropped Bally Sports Southwest, Mavs fans expressed frustration at how hard it was to watch the team’s playoff run.
Bally Sports Plus is designed to step in and fill that void for fans in markets with a Bally Sports RSN.
The powers that be at Sinclair Broadcasting are betting that consumers will pay for the Bally Sports channels that streaming services and cable providers have recently dropped.
Bally Sports Plus announces full launch
Having started in just 5 test markets, the Bally Sports Plus lineup will now be available in every one of its markets starting on September, 26th, which means there will now be two options for live streaming every Bally Sports RSN – DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” and Bally Sports Plus.
Sounds like a great solution for watching in-market MLB, NHL, and NBA in-market, right?
Not so fast my friend.
Bally Sports Plus is essentially a one channel live TV streaming service with a very limited programming lineup. NBA, MLB, and NHL fans can’t watch most of their team’s big games on Bally Sports Plus, which means the service is not viable as a standalone solution. Bally Sports Plus doesn’t carry NFL games, NCAAF, news, movies, or weather, subscribers are paying for Bally Sports programming, and that’s it.
DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” pricing will determine the success (or failure) of Bally Sports Plus
At $19.99 per month, the app’s price point contemplates the need to add another streaming service for watching nationally televised games, NFL, NCAAF, playoff games, and non-sports programming.
Cord cutting sports fans may pay the Bally Sports Plus subscription fee, but it only makes sense as long as the cost of Bally Sports Plus paired with another live TV streaming provider is less than DIRECTV STREAM “Choice.” As the cost of DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” goes down, Bally Sports Plus makes less sense.
As long as DIRECTV STREAM’s “Choice” plan stays at $89.99 per month, it makes financial sense for fans to combine Bally Sports Plus and any other live TV streaming service that offers important channels like ESPN, ABC, FOX, CBS, FS1, Big Ten Network, and more. Under this scenario, the cost of Bally Sports Plus added to a platform like YouTube TV is about the same price as paying for DIRECTV STREAM “Choice.”
However, if DIRECTV STREAM offers its “Choice” plan at $69.99 per month, as they have been experimenting with in recent trials, it represents the cheapest, and most convenient, way to watch Bally Sports RSNs, plus big games on national channels, NFL, NCAAF, as well as movies, news, comedy, and traditional TV.
With DIRECTV STREAM at $69.99 per month, it makes no sense to pay $19.99 per month for an app with one channel that requires another platform to fill in the programming holes that prevent full coverage of MLB, NHL, or NBA teams.
Therefore, the success of Bally Sports Plus will hinge on the price of DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” for as long as DTV holds the rights to air Bally Sports RSNs.
By continuing to offer DIRECTV STREAM “Choice” at $69.99 per month, AT&T could effectively kill off Bally Sports Plus as sports fans realize the limitations of the app.
Sinclair’s DIRECTV STREAM deal is up in 2023
Despite AT&T’s current leverage, Sinclair does hold a “nuclear option.”
The Bally Sports deal with DIRECTV STREAM is up for renewal in 2023. Is Sinclair’s plan to take its lineup of regional sports networks completely off the major live TV streaming services and hope sports fans will pay for its regular season broadcasts à la carte?
This would be a risky move in light of the platform’s limited programming lineup, but diehard fans in serious sports towns like Detroit might just go along with it.
We will see.
Bally Sports RSNs
|Bally Sports+||DIRECTV STREAM – Choice||DIRECTV STREAM||fuboTV||Hulu + Live TV||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|
$19.99 / month
$99.99 / month
$74.99 / month
$74.99 / month
$69.99 / month
$50 / month
$64.99 / month