The supposed Bally Sports RSN direct-to-consumer product sounds like quite a stretch. If it works it will be a gigantic coup for Sinclair. But if it doesn’t it will be another example of underestimating the value of a product.
At the moment there are Bally sports has apps for multiple markets comprising 21 networks. They have the broadcast/streaming rights to 16 MLB teams, 17 NBA teams, and 13 NHL teams. This means that the fans of those teams are very much at the mercy of these networks.
Isn’t this what you have been asking for?
In some cases, the idea that this could happen as a direct-to-consumer product is a win for consumers because it means that they are not at the mercy of negotiations between cable carriers and the actual networks that have the contact they want. It is almost the kind of true à la carte programming that people have been pushing (begging for) for over a decade. But with that comes the realization that cable companies have been touting all along. The bundle is a deal. Maybe it’s a deal that gets you hundreds of channels you don’t want, but it gets you all of them for less than a dollar apiece.
It might not be the deal you want, but fans and markets with the Bally sports app will be able to see all of the teams games. But it will be almost like being a junior season ticket holder. Because you’ll be paying a considerable amount for it compared with other services out there. According to reporting on the matter it will cost $23.00 per month. It would be the most expensive service on the market that doesn’t offer multiple channels like something along the lines of Sling TV or Hulu with live TV etc. By comparison, Sling TV offers ESPN and ESPN 2 along with 30 other networks for $30.00 per month.
For fanatics, this will seem like a can’t-miss opportunity. Especially those who don’t watch a lot of other programming. If you live for hockey or your local baseball team and don’t through a whole lot of money around at multiple streaming services, $23 plus an antenna might seem like an excellent way to drop cable. But on the other hand, if you are somebody who still wants to have the ESPN family of networks and appreciates at least some of what you would get from a paid TV package you may already be a sling TV subscriber or a YouTube TV subscriber. If that’s the case we’re talking about a $23 fee to add one channel.
It threatens to create a market where only the most zealous customers even consider it. And you can better believe it will be seasonal. If you never want to miss the Minnesota twins game you might subscribe for as long as the baseball season goes. If you happen to be a Minnesota “area” sports fan it may be a much longer proposition. But it will cost hundreds of dollars per year. And this would be the case all over the country. Are Carolina Hurricanes fans here in North Carolina going to pay $23 a month for a TV channel just to watch the hurricanes and maybe some Hornets games? Do the fans even crossover? I’m not sure if they do at least not in large part.
This is where the risk lies for Sinclair. While ESPN launched ESPN plus add less than five dollars a month and has slowly integrated major-league baseball multiple soccer contests in any international sports and even exclusive access to lower-tier college sports action, it has done so well bundling the service with Disney+ and Hulu and even selling it for next to nothing on its own. In the process has gained millions of subscribers. It even offers the full collection of its 30 for 30 programming and other specials and digital exclusives. While some sports fans might not think it’s worth the cost I’m sure anybody can agree but five dollars is a much less expensive proposition than 23.
My guess is that this will be an app for the super fans. This sets up a scenario like “do I go to the bar and spend a bunch of money over paying for beer and hotdogs and chips or whatever or do I make the investment at home and spend $100 a season”? Bally Sports better hope that there are a lot of people looking to spend at least $100 a season or you will see these are essence for sale and gobbled up by peacock or similar outfits in the next couple of years.
Don’t be surprised to see a “who will buy Sinclair’s RSNs article in the next few years.