For sports fans, one of the more frustrating experiences is paying a streaming TV company $70 per month only to find that you can’t watch the Braves game in Atlanta because the channel that carries the team’s games isn’t included in your package.
There are many advantages to cutting the cord on the cable company and opting into the world of streaming TV. But access to live games for your local professional baseball, basketball or hockey team is not one of them.
Live streaming TV services, such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling, offer lower subscription costs for many popular channels that cable companies offer, but one of the holes in their offerings is regional sports networks (RSNs). Most cable and satellite companies have contracts in place to broadcast RSNs and most streaming services do not.
Bally Sports+ may soon remedy this issue for many streamers across this country. And in some markets, the work has already begun!
Bally Sports is a product of the Sinclair Broadcasting group. It owns regional sports broadcasting rights for many MLB, NHL and NBA teams across the United States. And it has launched its own streaming service that will allow consumers to pay for access to games in their local markets without having a cable or livestreaming TV subscription. All you’ll have to do is download an app.
The service, dubbed Bally Sports+, soft-launched in select markets in the summer of 2022. The goal is for the service to be available to all customers by sometime this fall.
Let’s look at the details of this new service to see if it’s something that could save you money while giving you access to the games of your favorite team.
Table of Contents
- What Is Bally Sports+?
- Which Teams Will Be Available?
- How Much Does It Cost?
- When Will It Be Available to Me?
- What if My Team Plays on a Non-Bally Network?
What Is Bally Sports+?
Bally Sports+ is a stand-alone streaming subscription service that will offer access to live broadcasts for local sporting events, including professional baseball, basketball and hockey.
Customers will be able to pay for access to games in their local markets without the requirement of a cable, satellite or livestreaming TV subscription.
Bally Sports will accomplish this by charging streamers for access to their respective Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) as a la carte purchases instead of through a bundled service or package.
This is in response to consumer demand. As more viewers have fled long-term cable or satellite TV contracts, they’ve been unhappy to find that they can’t watch local sports on live TV streaming services because those companies don’t have contracts in place to broadcast those RSNs.
Which Teams Will Be Available on Bally Sports+?
As of August 1, 2022, Bally Sports+ is still in the “soft launch” phase in select markets.
It’s currently available as a beta version in five introductory launch markets: Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay.
In total, Bally Sports RSNs have the broadcasting rights to 42 professional baseball, basketball and hockey teams. These are grouped into 18 different Bally Sports RSNs.
You can check for your favorite teams, the associated Bally RSNs and their approximate coverage areas on the map below.
Though they’re at varying stages of the rollout process, based on various contractual obligations to teams, leagues and markets, it’s expected that most of these teams’ games will eventually be available to stream through Bally Sports+.
Bally Sports says it anticipates “the full launch will be available to fans in all Bally Sports markets starting in the fall of 2022 with NBA and NHL content.”
It’s important to note that a subscription to this service provides you with access only to teams within your local RSN market.
How Much Does Bally Sports+ Cost?
Bally Sports+ has both monthly and annual pricing options available in its soft-launch markets.
A sample of the pricing structure they’re using in Florida as of August 2022:
|Monthly||$19.99 per month|
|Annual||$190 one-time payment|
Consumers can save $50 per year by committing to a full year upfront rather than going month-to-month, but is that the smart play?
It probably depends on the local market in which you live and how many teams are part of your Bally Sports RSN.
Baseball season runs from March to October, while hockey and basketball generally run from October to April. So you could conceivably have a desire to watch games through all 12 months in your market.
But if you’re just a fan of the baseball team in your market, then you might find better value in going month-to-month with your subscription to avoid paying for months when you won’t watch the streaming service.
Remember, this price only gets you broadcasts for teams that are within the coverage area of your local RSN. If you’re a Braves fan in California, you’re not going to get the RSN feed for Bally Sports Southeast. You’d need to pay for MLB.TV to view the Braves as an out-of-market team instead.
When Will Bally Sports+ Be Available?
As I mentioned earlier, Bally Sports+ is available in five test markets right now. The goal is for all 18 of the Bally Sports RSNs to be available on the service by sometime in the fall of 2022.
That would be in time to enjoy the upcoming NBA and NHL seasons, but it means many baseball fans may have to wait for the 2023 season for access.
You can easily find out if Bally Sports+ is available in your market by visiting the website and entering your ZIP code.
What if My Favorite Teams Aren’t on a Bally Sports Affiliate?
If you’re a fan of a local team that doesn’t have games broadcast on a Bally Sports affiliate, Bally Sports+ won’t be of much help to you.
Some teams, like the New York Yankees (YES Network) and Chicago Cubs (Marquee Sports Network), have their own channels. Other teams’ games air on RSNs that are owned by companies other than Bally Sports. NBC Sports, AT&T Sportsnet and ROOT Sports are other popular RSN brands.
Some of those are accessible through livestreaming TV subscriptions.