Sinclair’s Bally Sports live streaming service to miss Major League Baseball opener – Media Play News

Kansas City Royals

Erik Gruenwedel

Last year, Sinclair Broadcast Group spent nearly $10 billion to acquire 21 former regional Fox sports networks (renamed Bally Sports) in an effort to bring Major League Baseball live to consumers. With the baseball season starting April 7, Sinclair’s standby Bally Sports streaming service offering access to five MLB teams (Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays) is unlikely to be launched smoothly before that date. the summer.

Sinclair, which owns the broadcast rights to all 30 MLB teams, is seeking to establish first-mover status in regional live sports streaming alongside a brand name synonymous with gaming. The media company also entered into streaming deals with the Chicago Cubs through their joint Marquee Sports Network, the New York Yankees as co-owner of the ball club’s YES Network.

“It’s the start of a new paradigm for how fans can watch and interact with their local teams,” CEO Chris Ripley said during last month’s fiscal year. “The potential market for a [direct-to-consumer] product is important because approximately 83 million households reside in the territories for which we currently have DTC rights.

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Fast forward a month, and the Bally Sports streaming service — with a target of 4.4 million subscribers paying $20 a month to stream out-of-market baseball games — remains wishful thinking.

The Kansas City Star reported that the Royals plan to offer fans a streaming option by the second quarter, according to ball club CEO John Sherman.

“We are working on some things. Sinclair is working on some things,” Sherman told reporters last week during the club’s spring training in Arizona. “I don’t know how long it will take. The whole landscape is changing, the streaming, the way young people consume the game and connect with teams and players. But there’s a lot of work going on in MLB right now with some really brilliant people on our media committee. And we’re watching Sinclair and this whole thing.

With Disney-owned Hulu, along with Live TV and YouTube TV, both dropping Bally Sports, Sinclair finds itself under pressure to diversify its distribution channels — a sentiment, Sherman says, that dance clubs share.

“When you think about it, reach is more important than revenue for us in baseball,” he said, downplaying media suggestions that the recent delay in the start of baseball’s spring training was due to a revenue disagreement with the players’ union.

“I think a lot of what you heard on the ABC was that all we cared about was revenue,” Sherman said. “But reach is more important than revenue. Revenue will come if we connect with more fans over time. This is the strategy we employ. How do we get there, I think there is some turbulence. But we want it to be easy for people to log in and see our games.

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