Bally Sports could face uphill battle with standalone app

Subscribers to YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV can't watch Cleveland baseball because they do not carry Bally Sports' two Northeast Ohio regional sports networks.  That could change next season as Bally Sports is planning to release a standalone app that would cost $23 per month for subscribers.

Cord cutters in the area, rejoice. Bally Sports, owner of Bally Sports Great Lakes and Bally Sports Ohio, announced plans to release the unicorn-ish standalone app for streaming their assorted live sports in 2022.

Or don’t.  And to be honest, none should rejoice just yet.

Those who subscribe to live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV (in the interest of full disclosure, I use this one) or Hulu with Live TV have lived in a live sports desert since last fall — no Cleveland baseball, no Cavs basketball — because those companies deemed the cost associated with the Bally Sports channels would further trim profit margins.

They are content to focus on entertainment and the national-level sports networks — ESPN, FSN, NFL Network — betting that’s enough to placate the casual sports fan who prefers the value they offer instead of an expensive all-encompassing package.  I suspect they are right.

Bally Sports Ohio logo

Bally Sports fires a shot

But Bally Sports, owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, is prepared to go it alone, apparently, floating a $23 subscription price for a standalone app to lure those cut off from their favorite sports teams.  They’re looking at you, Northeast Ohio, for 2022 with Bally Sports Great Lakes and Bally Sports Ohio.

John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal isn’t betting on the likelihood of this happening anytime soon for myriad reasons, despite Sinclair Broadcast’s effort to raise $250 million to get the app launched in time for next year’s baseball season.

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