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Sinclair Announces Initial Pricing for ‘Bally Sports+’ DTC Streaming App

Matt Tamanini

On Wednesday, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group revealed its earnings report for the first quarter of 2022. It was an eventful three months for the broadcasting giant as they continued to slowly inch toward the long-awaited launch of their Bally Sports direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming service.

The company announced that the plan was still to have a soft launch of the streamer this quarter and that it will cost $189.99 annually or $19.99 per month. Later during the company’s earnings call, CEO Chris Ripley referred to the upcoming service as “Bally Sports+.”

The service would allow fans access to stream NBA, NHL, and select MLB teams on their Bally Sports RSN in their local markets.

Currently, Bally Sports RSNs are only available to stream on DIRECTV STREAM as part of their $89.99 Choice Plan. Over the last two years, the channels were dropped by YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu, and fuboTV.

On Tuesday, Ripley said that the streaming service would launch with “an attractive price point as compared to other similar professional sports DTC offerings.”

The closest comparisons to other sports-specific streamers are likely to be the individual league’s out-of-market packages. MLB.TV costs $24.99 per month, while NBA League Pass Premium costs $29.99 per month. In another stratosphere, NFL Sunday Ticket currently costs $74 per month, while NHL.TV and MLS Live are now part of ESPN+ on the $6.99 per month plan.

One of the concerns about the launch of “Bally Sports+” is the relatively limited number of teams’ streaming rights, especially in the volume-heavy world of Major League baseball, in comparison to the league-specific options. In total, Sinclair currently owns the broadcast rights to 38 MLB, NBA, and NHL franchises already available on the company’s stations. They currently have streaming rights for 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams, as well as five MLB teams.

On their earnings call, Sinclair execs mentioned that the company was having “constructive dialogue” with other teams and leagues to bolster their rights package. However, due to the plan to have a soft launch in Q2 2022 and a wide launch in the fall, there is not necessarily an immediate time crunch to add more teams.

In the first three months of the year, Sinclair reported that total revenue decreased 14.8% year-over-year to $1.29 billion. The company’s total advertising revenue came in at $371 million, which was in line with the Q1 2021 period. In terms of media-specific revenue, Sinclair revealed $819 in the first quarter, which was higher than the $803 million guidance that was issued on Feb. 23. The company is forecasting $840 million in media revenue for the second quarter of 2022.

In addition to the company’s revenue disclosures, on Wednesday, Sinclair reported that it had consolidated Diamond Sports Group (DSG), the subsidiary overseeing the Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs) and DTC app. This was required due to the recent loan agreements that DSG entered into effect March 1. Also part of these new investments in the company, Diamond announced a new board of managers on Tuesday.

While DSG will no longer be considered part of the Sinclair balance sheet, the company maintains “nearly 100%” ownership of DSG.

On the traditional TV front, Q1 saw Sinclair continue to battle with cable providers to keep their RSNs on the air. After a one-month extension in March, Sinclair finally reached a deal with Charter to keep their RSNs on the cable provider in April, just in time for the launch of the MLB season and NBA and NHL postseasons.

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