Sinclair Broadcasting Group reported their quarterly earnings this morning for the first 3-months of 2021 for the period ending on March 31, 2021. During the conference call, the company gave an update on important information for cord cutters when it comes to the future of the direct-to-consumer options and Bally Sports RSNs, and the Bally Sports RSNs.
The future of Bally Sports RSNs and streaming services
Bally Sports RSNs are made up of 21-owned-and-operated regional networks that broadcast a combined 46 teams across the MLB, NBA, and NHL. The only streaming option that currently offers Bally Sports RSNs is AT&T TV. Other popular streaming providers such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Hulu with Live TV have stopped carrying the Bally Sports RSNs at various times over the last three years due to not being able to reach an agreement with Sinclair over carriage fees.
When asked if the RSNs would be returning to popular streaming providers during this morning’s conference call, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley remained coy and stated he had “no comments on the status of distributor discussions” and that “time will tell if these distributors will return.”
With younger people cutting the cord in droves, it would be beneficial for Sinclair to find out a way to make their Bally Sports RSNs more widely available on streaming platforms. If deals cannot be reached then a streaming-subscription platform would be the next best step.
Bally Sports RSN Direct-to-Consumer App is in the works
There may not be a timetable for when the RSNs will return to streaming providers; however, Sinclair is working on a direct-to-consumer app that allows subscribers to watch their RSNs. There aren’t many details about the future of the app in regards to price or exact release date, but Ripley stated they “are in discussions with the leagues and the teams about enhancing some of those rights to make the product even better.” He continued to say, “that’s what’s going on right now and I don’t see that being a threat to timing. The plan is to launch in the first half of 2022.”
There appear to be some positive collaborations behind the scene since Sinclair is working with the leagues, most teams, and traditional cable and satellite providers to have their DTC app ready by their allotted goal of the first half of 2022. “We and the teams desire to make the programming as accessible as possible, something that today, unfortunately, is not ideal,” Ripley said. If there aren’t any delays then when Sinclair’s Bally DTC app launches in the first half of 2022 then it will be a game-changer when it comes to the way we stream live sports.
The Bally Sports DTC app will include features that the current authentication app has. Fans will be able to enjoy recording, news, stats, Bally’s programming, sports betting, and more.
What we now know about the future of the Bally Sports App
At the end of 2020, Sinclair had approximately 52 million RSN subscribers, however; at the end of the first quarter of 2021, their consolidated total revenue decreased 6% from where it was during the first quarter of 2020. Sinclair will have to find ways to increase revenues from their lack of availability on popular streaming distributors, the future direct-to-consumer options, and the updates to the Bally Sports App.
One future update of the Bally Sports App will include gamification which may help increase the company’s revenue. Combined with Bally’s plan to allow in-app sports betting this will put the game right into the consumer’s hands. The Bally Sports app will be looking to include new technologies into future versions of the app. During today’s call, Ripley acknowledged that the company is modifying their digital interactive business strategies by using their app’s platform to “funnel into other opportunities like sports betting…like NFTs, (with the) opportunity for socialization, we’re excited for what that means.”
Sports fans should be excited for the first half of 2022 because it sounds like most teams will be available to stream again. If Sinclair is successful with their expansion of the Bally Sports App and direct-to-consumer options then their big gamble will finally pay off.
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