Sports Fans May Need Multiple Bally Sports Plus Subscriptions to Watch All Teams In Their Market
Bally Sports+ officially soft-launched their direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming service for local sports fans on Thursday and at launch is available to customers in five markets including Detroit (Bally Sports Detroit), Kansas City (Bally Sports Kansas City), and Milwaukee (Bally Sports Wisconsin).
Where it gets a bit more complicated is for streamers in Florida. While the service is available to stream Bally Sports Sun and Bally Sports Florida – it requires two separate subscriptions to order both channels. That’s because Bally Sports+ can sell streaming rights to regional sports networks (RSNs) on an individual basis, but not to individual teams.
This specifically becomes a problem in Florida, where teams in South Florida (Heat, Marlins, and Panthers) and Central Florida (Magic, Rays, and Lightning) are spread across two separate channels.
In Florida, the Miami Heat are carried on Bally Sports Sun, while the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers are on Bally Sports Florida. The Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning are on Bally Sports Sun, while the Orlando Magic are on Bally Sports Florida.
The Streamable has confirmed that in order to stream all three teams in either South or Central Florida, customers will need to pay two separate $19.99 per month subscriptions. There is a belief that Bally Sports might be able to offer a discount to customers who sign up for both, but at least for the soft-launch that won’t be the case.
Even though both Bally Sports Sun and Bally Sports Florida are available side-by-side in multiple markets across the state via cable and satellite, that arrangement is not currently possible on streaming due to pay-TV agreements. As long as the teams are distributed on pay-TV packages on separate channels, this is the only way that Bally Sports can offer them on Bally Sports+.
It doesn’t sound as if the company would be able to move the teams across channels in order to align them better by region either. In fact, Sinclair Broadcasting — Bally Sports’ parent company — probably wouldn’t want to, because it would allow distributors to only carry one of their channels in each region in Florida, rather than both, increasing the carriage fee.
Unless they can figure this out, this likely won’t be just a Florida problem either.
In the Los Angeles market, the Los Angeles Angels, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, LA Clippers, and San Diego Padres air games across Bally Sports West, Bally Sports SoCal, and Bally Sports San Diego. Depending on what channel a game is airing on, and who your favorite team is, you might need multiple subscriptions to watch all of the games that you want to see.
While Bally Sports+ gives consumers the ability to access games in-market for the first time without a traditional TV bundle, in order to please their existing distribution agreements, it won’t come without some delicate tight-rope walking that might not make streamers very happy.