When Will You Be Able to Stream NHL Games in Bally Sports App Without a Cable Subscription?
In the aftermath of Sinclair's deal with a dozen NHL teams, it’s only a matter of time before hockey fans will be able to stream games with a standalone subscription to the Bally Sports App. For now, the Bally networks are only available to stream through DIRECTV STREAM.
However, Sinclair has ambitions to launch a direct-to-consumer product in the first half of 2022. That could be a huge win for sports fans of some teams, depending on the price. Sports rights are notoriously expensive because they draw live viewers willing to sit through ads. Until yesterday’s NHL deal, Sinclair only had DTC streaming rights for four MLB teams. The current MLB lockout could derail a Bally’s planned launch if it drags into the season. Just as Peacock fell flat when it launched without the COVID-delayed Olympics, Sinclair would be unwise to launch a standalone sports app without any sports.
Regardless of when a DTC subscription is available, the soonest NHL fans might care is the 2022-23 season, when Sinclair finally has rights to broadcast those games without a partner streaming service or cable company.
What NHL Teams Can Bally Stream DTC?
- Anaheim Ducks
- Arizona Coyotes
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Dallas Stars
- Detroit Red Wings
- Florida Panthers
- Los Angeles Kings
- Minnesota Wild
- Nashville Predators
- St. Louis Blues
- Tampa Bay Lightning
Can Bally Pull This Off?
There are a lot of factors at play here. The first is price. Reports suggest Bally would charge roughly $23/month to stream games, but Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley has denied that. Pricing out a sports-only streaming service is difficult. The only people likely to subscribe are die-hard fans who need to see every game on their RSN. Sinclair will need to offset the cost of the rights, as well as the infrastructure needed to support the streaming service. And it will also need to turn a profit.
Perhaps the biggest complication is that fans of one sport would not sign up for an entire year of such a service. After the Stanely Cup is hoisted, why would hockey fans continue paying? A wildly uneven revenue stream would make for a bad business model.
Another issue: sports viewership is on the wane, especially among younger viewers. In a 2020 survey by Morning Consult, just 53% of Gen Z respondents claimed to be at least casual sports fans, behind 69% of Millennials, 66% from Gen X and 61% of Boomers. Only 32% of Gen Z respondents said they were at least a casual fan of MLB — trailing the NFL (49%), the NBA (47%), and esports (35%). That’s right — more young people would watch other people play video games than sit through a baseball game. That should be terrifying for MLB and a service like Bally.
Even if we assume fans of 12 NHL and 4 MLB teams would be willing to pay whatever Sinclair demands, there will still be significant pushback from existing partners. Cable and satellite companies pay a fortune to have access to live sports and RSNs. They would likely fight attempts to carve off subscribers. As we mentioned, the carriage fees are so high that only DIRECTV STREAM is willing to offer them as an option for streamers.
If Sinclair proceeds, they could find themselves at war with distributors. In turn cable, satellite, and streaming providers might choose the nuclear option, dropping all 294 Sinclair channels in 89 markets. That would impact 57 FOX affiliates, 40 ABC stations, 31 CBS, and 25 NBC. Such a move would enrage an enormous audience and would reduce Sinclair’s revenue to whatever they’re able to pull in from Bally app subscribers. Not a likely scenario.
There’s also the matter of parts of Sinclair bleeding money. There may not be the appetite for a huge promotional spend or the patience necessary to drive subscriber growth to a new product.
“For now, clearly, the (cable) bundle’s broken,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at the World Congress of Sports. “I mean, we’re seeing now an issue that’s very topical at the moment, our regional sports networks, Sinclair in particular, and they’re, we’re trying with them to work through those issues,”
In addition, Silver indicated that Sinclair actually may have overpaid for the rights to the NBA. “They paid $10 billion, it’s not clear, it’s a good deal with $5 billion,” he said. Sinclair purchased the former Fox Sports RSNs for $9.6 billion in 2019, before rebranding them as Bally Sports Networks.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred agreed. “I think that the negativity surrounding the RSNs has been increased exponentially as a result of the situation with the Sinclair subsidiary Diamond. Part of their problem is cord-cutting. The other part of their problem is there’s excessive leverage on that business,” Manfred said. “If you think about what they paid for it, how much debt they have on it, I mean, you think it’s over 80%, it’s a huge number. And that leverage has produced headlines that are more negative. There are RSNs out there that aren’t thriving or growing, but they’re going to survive. Look, look, there are RSNs — YES and NESN — that have businesses that remain profitable, they’re affected by cord-cutting. But the fact of the matter is I think the negativity has been increased by the Diamond (Sinclair) situation.”
In an SEC filing, Sinclair points out that the new Bally streaming service would include gaming, sales of fan-based merchandise, ticketing, collectibles, and other sports-related features, in addition to the singular provision of streaming sports programming for viewers.
How Can You Stream Bally Sports Networks Today?
Until a DTC choice emerges, DIRECTV STREAM is your only option. To access them, you’ll need the “Choice” package for $84.99/month.
|DTV STREAM||fuboTV||Hulu||Philo||Sling TV||YouTube|
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|AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh||≥ $89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain||≥ $89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|AT&T SportsNet Southwest||≥ $89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Arizona||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Carolinas||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Detroit||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Florida||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Great Lakes||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Indiana||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Kansas City||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Midwest||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports New Orleans||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports North||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Ohio||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Oklahoma||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports San Diego||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports SoCal||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports South||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Southeast||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Southwest||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Sun||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Tennessee||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports West||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Bally Sports Wisconsin||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Arizona||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Carolinas||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Detroit||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Florida||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Indiana||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Kansas City||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Midwest||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports New Orleans||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports North||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Ohio||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Oklahoma||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Prime Ticket||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports San Diego||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports South||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Southeast||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Southwest||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Sun||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Tennessee||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports West||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Fox Sports Wisconsin||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Longhorn Network||-||-||-||-||^ $11||-||-|
|Marquee Sports Network||≥ $89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|NBC Sports Bay Area||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Boston||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports California||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Chicago||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Northwest||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia+||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Washington||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Washington+||-||•||•||-||-||-||-|
|Root Sports Northwest||≥ $89.99||•||-||-||-||-||-|
|Spectrum SportsNet||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Spectrum SportsNet LA||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|SportsNet NY||≥ $89.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|SportsTime Ohio||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|YES Network||≥ $89.99||-||-||-||-||-||-|