Sinclair’s Bally Sports streaming service won’t arrive until summer

Sinclair’s planned Bally Sports direct-to-consumer streaming app—which will feature live games from five MLB teams—likely won’t arrive until this summer.

The Kansas City Star confirmed that the Kansas City Royals will be one of the teams getting a streaming service. Sinclair has also reportedly reached streaming rights agreements with the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays. But fans of those teams will have to wait until this summer.

Royals chairman/CEO John Sherman told the publication his organization is working on streaming options with Sinclair and MLB.

“Then long-term, I think there are some really exciting solutions. I don’t know how long it will take. The whole landscape is changing, streaming, the way young people consume the game and connect to teams and players. But there’s a lot of work being done at MLB right now with some really bright people on our media committee. And we’re monitoring Sinclair and that whole situation,” he said.

During Sinclair’s most recent earnings call, CEO Chris Ripley said he expects the app will “soft launch” in the first half of 2022. Sinclair subsidiary Diamond Sports announced $1 billion in incremental financing to help move forward with the Bally Sports DTC launch.

With spring training underway for MLB teams after a delayed start to the season, many fans are reminded once again for how few streaming options exist for watching Bally Sports. The channels have been dropped by YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, and currently DirecTV Stream is the only virtual MVPD that carries Bally Sports. Dish Network also dropped the networks and Charter is currently in carriage negotiations with Sinclair. The companies agreed on a one-month extension for negotiations but that is due to expire in the next few days.

Against a backdrop of carriage disputes, Sinclair is pushing ahead with plans to launch its Bally Sports DTC service, that will offer in-market access to live games. In addition to the handful of MLB teams on board, Sinclair has also renewed digital streaming rights deal with the NBA and NHL.

Sinclair has yet to announce a launch date or pricing for its upcoming streaming service but Sports Business Journal previously reported it will likely cost more than $20 per month and will limit live game availability to local markets.

In a regulatory filing last summer, Sinclair predicted its streaming service could eventually attract approximately 4.4 million subscribers and generate around $2 billion in annual revenue. The company projected about 1.7 million subscribers to the service would be from the cord-cutter/cord-never category and another approximately 1.4 million would be non-RSN subscribers from its distributor partners. About 1.3 million subscribers would come from current subscribers to its Bally Sports networks.