Bally Sports App Will Cost Streamers $225 Per Year, According to Sinclair’s Projections
Over the last month, Sinclair has quieted many of the skeptics to their plans to a launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2022 by signing deals with the NBA and NHL. With those two deals, they will be able to offer in-market streaming to 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams, in addition to four MLB teams they already owned the rights to.
Assuming that they get approval from cable and satellite distributors to launch a service, Sinclair is hoping to soft launch their DTC product in time for the MLB season, with a full launch for next NBA and NHL season. But if they do get approval, how much will it cost?
Currently, the least expensive way to stream Bally Sports RSNs is with a subscription to DIRECTV STREAM's Choice Plan ($89.99 a month).
As part of their $600 million fundraise for their new streaming service, Sinclair included projections for the service that give a hint on what they plan to charge.
In their first full year of operating the service (2023), without adding any additional teams to the service, the company expects $243 million in subscription revenue across 1.08 million subscribers. On average, that would mean a subscriber would be paying $225 per year to access the Bally Sports App – or $18.75 per month.
But don’t expect it to be that cheap.
Sinclair’s Bally Sports App Projections
The NBA and NHL seasons only last seven months, which would mean that at $225 per year, a subscriber would effectively be paying $32/month for the service – and that’s assuming they charge one fee per RSN, instead of a fee per team.
The company had been circulating a $23 a month price point for the Bally Sports DTC service as part of Sinclair’s fundraising efforts. That number was soundly denied by Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley in an interview with the Baltimore Business Journal.
He told the Wall Street Journal that it would be “consistent with some of the other premium sports services in the marketplace,” which would be right in line with $200 per year.
Assuming everything else goes right, this pricing may be the biggest flaw in Sinclair’s plans.
In most cases, 90% of cable subscribers who pay of a Regional Sports Network, don’t watch it. But, for those that do, cable subscribers have to pay for the channel all year round, even when there isn’t live sports. With a direct-to-consumer product, you have no reason to pay when there aren’t live games.
Sinclair is banking on the fact that a baseball fan is also a hockey/basketball fan, who will need an in-market streaming service all year long. Considering they only have in-market streaming rights to the Tigers, Marlins, Brewers, and Royals, for now, that only works in those markets where they can pair them with the Pistons/Red Wings, Heat/Panthers, and Bucks/Wild respectively.
If they do acquire MLB streaming rights, they would be in a much better position, but it doesn’t solve all markets. They don’t have this option for those who get Bally Sports Indiana (Indiana Pacers), Bally Sports Oklahoma (Oklahoma City Thunder), and Bally Sports New Orleans (New Orleans Pelicans) – and for many fans in Tennessee who just want the Grizzlies/Predators and the Carolinas with the Hornets/Hurricanes.
One way to solve this is by partnering with other RSN groups like NBC Sports or AT&T SportsNet, which seems to be in the long-term plans.
During Sinclair’s Q3 2021 earnings call, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said, “I do think ultimately adding in rights from other groups like Comcast and AT&T makes sense. Whether you do that through transaction partnerships contracts, consortiums… (those are) things that will be contemplated in a Stage Two.”
The bet Sinclair is making is that they are acquiring subscribers who have already cut the cord, but at over $30 a month – is that really going to happen? And, if instead it just accelerates customers fleeing their cable subscriptions – that’s not good for them either.