Bally’s Live App to Broadcast All Minor League Games for Free Without Blackouts
With the Major League Baseball season just a week away and things remaining in flux in terms of the league’s status across a number of regional sports networks (RSNs), the league has apparently worked out a way to make sure that fans can get their baseball fix free of charge, even if it is from the Minor League level. The New York Post is reporting that MLB has reached a deal with casino conglomerate Bally’s Corp. to broadcast every minor league game on the Bally Live App for free.
This is not to be confused with the Bally Sports RSNs or Bally Sports+, which are owned by Diamond Sports Group, but for which Bally’s has the naming rights. Previously, to get access to the broadcasts of all 120 MiLB teams, fans needed to pay $29.99 per season for the Minor League add-on to MLB’s At-Bat app. This season’s games will launch on the Bally Live app on April 15 and there will be no blackouts on home game broadcasts.
The Post reports that in a presentation by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the league’s stated goal is to increase the availability of the Minor League games. Last season, the At-Bat app reportedly had 40,000 subscribers, but Bally’s app — which primarily functions as an online gambling platform — averages 750,000 users per month, which would obviously represent a dramatic increase in exposure for the games.
However, the additional exposure isn’t the only benefit that the league sees in the deal. According to the Post, Manfred’s presentation also notes “distribution opportunities across retail footprints, linear channels and digital products, all with added fan engagement opportunities via unmatched ‘gamification.’” Bally’s owns and operates 17 casinos so the ability to integrate MiLB into those venues, including the Tropicana in Las Vegas, could serve as a major opportunity for the league.
While Bally’s will reportedly not be permitting betting on Minor League games, the “gamification” will be similar to a promotion run in the At-Bat app last season. Different games, potentially even one called “Baseball Bingo” will allow users to earn Bally’s Rewards points that can be redeemed for various perks at the casino.
As Major League Baseball continues to wrestle with the ramifications of the ongoing RSN explosion, finding a way to increase the accessibility of its Minor League product could have positive impacts not only in the short term, but for the future of the sport as well.