The MLB lockout may have ended but the long-awaited Bally Sports direct-to-consumer streaming app may not meet its quarter 2 “soft launch” projection, but 5 MLB teams are expected to be part of the app when it does launch this summer, according to reporting by the Kansas City Star. Bally Sports has digital rights to the Kansas City Royals, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, and Detroit Tigers, which means fans who live in their markets will be able to stream live games once the app launches around midseason.
As of now, cord cutters do not have many ways to stream in-market MLB games on Bally Sports RSNs, as DIRECTV Stream is the only streaming provider that carries the RSNs. With Opening Day 2022 two weeks away, fans are begging for more ways to watch local games since many streaming providers have stopped carrying Bally Sports.
Fans who live in the market of the Chicago Cubs may have a way to watch games as the club has been in talks with Bally Sports’ parent company Sinclair Broadcasting about starting their own DTC streaming service. Nothing has been finalized as of yet between Sinclair and the Cubs, however, the team has received push back from the MLB, as the league could create their own in-market streaming service.
As of now, fans who live out-of-market can watch live MLB games on MLB.TV, which is currently going for a promotional price of $129.99 for the 2022 season. Baseball fans who are T-Mobile subscribers can watch games on MLB.TV for free via a link in the T-Mobile Tuesday app for those who qualify.
On a larger scale, the MLB has made moves during the offseason to give fans more streaming options to watch nationally broadcasted games. The upcoming season will be the first for Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+, and the league is expected to announce Sunday Morning Baseball on Peacock soon.
Without a DIRECTV Stream subscription, fans who live in the local markets of the aforementioned 5 teams will have to wait for the Bally Sports DTC app to launch before they can watch their local club on the diamond. However, Bally Sports has to secure a digital rights deal with the other 9 MLB teams that play on their RSNs if they want to surely surpass their projected 975,000 subscriber threshold. On a positive note, Sinclair was able to secure digital rights agreements for 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams within the last four months, which will greatly help bolster the DTC app.
Acquiring the MLB rights would make the DTC an obvious home run for fans, but that isn’t a guarantee as they can strike out during negotiations.