Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding distribution of OTT service Bally Sports Plus to all 19 markets in the Bally Sports regional sports networks empire starting Sept. 26.
The $19.99-a-month streaming service enables consumers within coverage zones of Bally Sports RSNs to watch these channels' live and pre-recorded content without a pay TV subscription.
Only five Bally Sports channels have deals with Major League Baseball teams. And it was markets covered by Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Sun and Bally Sports Wisconsin that received Bally Sports Plus first when the service launched in June.
Sinclair, however, was able to carve out league-wide rights deals with the NBA and NHL, which will be ramping up their seasons by Sept. 26
The remaining portfolio includes Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports Great Lakes, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports Southwest and Bally Sports West.
“We view Bally Sports Plus as a great complement to the incredible value our distribution partners provide our linear networks; and with both models, we are uniquely positioned to help our team partners grow their fan bases for years to come," said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley.
Michael Schneider, COO and GM of Bally Sports Plus, added: “Launching a streaming service like Bally Sports Plus across 19 different regions, all with unique content offerings, is an unprecedented undertaking. This full introduction marks a key moment in the evolution of RSNs, but it is also a great moment for local fans who now have another viewing option for their favorite teams.”
Bally Sports Plus content includes not only live game coverage of local teams, but also pre- and post-game shows, regionally produced programming -- including college football and basketball and high school sports -- and Bally Sports’ The Rally and Live on the Line, Powered by BetMGM.
Platform support is limited.
At launch, subscribers can access Bally Sports Plus via iOS and Android mobile devices, Android TV, Apple TV and BallySports.com.
The Bally Sports RSNs are managed by Diamond Sports Group, a wholly owned subsidiary being spun off of Sinclair.
Diamond hasn't yet announced any usage figures for Bally Sports Plus.
Other operators of regional sports networks are taking the risky OTT plunge.
In early June, several weeks before the launch of Bally Sports Plus, New England Sports Network (NESN), home of MLB's Boston Red Sox and the NHL's Boston Bruins, launched the app-based NESN 360.
And YES Network, the New York Yankees RSN home jointly owned by Amazon, Sinclair and several other companies, is streaming 60 games this baseball season outside the pay TV ecosystem. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!