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Southwest Distributor Evoca Wants to ‘Give Bally Sports Its Money,’ Sinclair Won’t Bite

Jeff Kotuby

While many other distributors are running away from Sinclair’s Bally Sports RSNs, one southwest distributor is having the opposite problem — it wants a Bally Sports RSN and can’t get Sinclair to give it to them.

According to a report by Cablefax, Evoca, an MVPD that serves Boise, Colorado Springs, and Phoenix, says it has been trying to get Bally Sports Southwest on its platform for almost a year. “We’ve been trying for a year to give Bally Arizona our money… and we can’t get a deal done,” Evoca CEO Todd Achilles told Cablefax. “They want us to pay [retransmission fees] in Idaho and Boise for their free over-the-air signal so we can pay them for the sports network in Phoenix, and just refuse to do a deal with us unless there’s a commitment there. Even when we signal, ‘alright, this just makes no sense, but we want to carry your RSN to Phoenix,’ we don’t make any progress.” Evoca launched in Phoenix back in October, and while they’ve managed to acquire RSNs for their other service areas, they’re still shut out of servicing their Arizona viewers.

Industry vets will likely get a chuckle out of this situation, as Sinclair has been notoriously difficult to deal with as an entity, especially when it comes to its Bally Sports RSNs. Sinclair’s hardball stance has led multiple live TV streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV to drop its RSNs entirely. Sinclair and Dish Networks are currently working towards a long-term resolution of their carriage dispute, which would likely see the Bally Sports RSNs appear on Dish’s platform.

Since Evoca uses ATSC 3.0, which combines over-the-air broadcasts with home internet, its pitch is that it can reach cord-cutters. Achilles said SNL Kagan data suggests that 33 percent of Phoenix’s market falls under that category, and Boise’s OTA footprint is even larger at 46 percent. “The RSN loves it because we get them access to a whole bunch of homes that they never had before,” said Achilles to Cablefax. “Now you’ve got the majority of homes that are outside the fold—there’s no way to reach them other than us. From an RSN standpoint, this is a great distribution model. Get them into more homes, more subscribers, more revenue and it’s all upside.”

But Sinclair might not want to do this deal for that reason — it could interfere with the company's planned DTC streaming option that's slated to launch next year.

Currently, the only way to stream Bally Sports Networks is with a subscription to DIRECTV STREAM.

DTV STREAM fuboTV Hulu Philo Sling TV YouTube
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US$ 69.99 US$ 69.99 US$ 69.99 US$ 25 US$ 35 US$ 35 US$ 64.99
Altitude ≥ US$ 89.99 - - - - - -
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Fox Sports Arizona ≥ US$ 89.99 - - - - - -
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