WIth MLB Opening Day set for April 7, Sinclair Broadcasting Group COO Rob Weisbord said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the company acquiring more streaming rights for MLB teams, as the company prepares to launch their long-awaited Bally Sports DTC streaming app.
It was reported by Deadline that Weisbord said the following at an online event hosted by the Digital Entertainment Group:
“There are ongoing conversations. I’m cautiously optimistic, now that they got past the lockout,” he said, alluding to MLB’s recent achievement of labor peace with players. “I believe that there is a path for a deal to get additional teams. But it takes a lot of conversations to get there and we’re having ongoing dialogue.”
Before the MLB lockout, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said the company had enough streaming rights to launch the app. Back in February, Ripley stated the app would make a “soft launch” in Q2, however, it was recently reported that the company only has streaming rights for 5 teams and the app is expected to launch during the summer.
14 MLB teams play across Bally Sports RSNs but the company only has streaming rights for the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Kansas City Royals. Fans within those teams’ local territories will get first access during the soft launch phase. The best-case scenario is that the DTC service will have 975,00 paying subscribers since Bally Sports has streaming rights for 16 NBA teams, and 12 NHL teams too. With insiders speculating the estimated monthly price of $23 for the app, a number that Weisbord declined to confirm at the event, Bally may need to acquire streaming rights for the other 9 MLB teams to achieve their projected subscription goal.
Weisbord said that after the soft launch with the first 5 MLB teams, Sinclair will gauge the initial performance before adding more teams later in the fall. There are plans to offer a monthly and annual subscription for the service, so local fans have choices when subscribing to watch their favorite team.
There has been reported discussion between Sinclair and the Chicago Cubs to launch their own DTC service, which has received pushback from MLB, as the league has reportedly considered launching their own in-market service. If the MLB or its teams decide to eventually abandon the RSN model for their own DTC streaming service then that could create a major problem for Bally Sports and other RSNs since MLB games make up the majority of their broadcast schedules.
More details on the Bally Sports app will be available within the coming months. With the 2022 MLB season less than a week away, fans can find out how to watch the first 12 Friday Night Baseball doubleheaders beginning on April 8.