Raise your hand if Bally Sports has created a headache for watching your favorite sports team in the last few years.
From the Atlanta Braves to the St. Louis Cardinals, nearly 40 American sports teams across Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League are featured on one of the 18 Bally Sports-branded Regional Sports Networks (RSNs).
And it hasn’t exactly been a good experience for most fans since Bally Sports took over.
So fans of teams in those markets have been forced to do one of three things to see games in recent years:
- Pay for a cable or satellite provider that has their local RSN included (expensive)
- Subscribe to a live TV streaming service that includes Bally Sports (Fubo and DIRECTV STREAM are very expensive)
- Pay Bally Sports directly for the Bally Sports+ streaming service (this isn't available for every team, and it is a standalone bill of more than $20 per month)
None of these are very friendly to your wallet. But some recent news may provide hope for 2024 and beyond.
Let’s take a look at how Amazon could be part of the solution moving forward.
Amazon Reaches Deal To Purchase Stake in Bally Sports
If you’ve been frustrated with your options for watching your favorite sports team on a Bally Sports RSN, there is some promising news for the months ahead.
Amazon has stepped in to help streamers regain some control over access to their favorite sports teams’ games.
Diamond Sports, which is the owner of the Bally Sports RSNs, has been going through bankruptcy proceedings as a result of its poor business results.
It was recently announced that Amazon has purchased a minority stake in Diamond Sports as a part of the proceedings. And as a result, it will soon be able to offer the Bally Sports RSN content to streamers via its Prime Video platform.
According to the Associated Press, the details on availability and pricing have not yet been determined:
"Under the terms of the restructuring agreement, Amazon will make a minority investment in Diamond and enter into a commercial arrangement to provide access to Diamond's content via Prime Video.
Customers will be able to access their local team's content on Prime Video channels where Diamond has rights. Pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. Regional sports content will also remain available on cable and satellite providers."
What Does This Mean for Streaming Your Favorite Sports Team?
You may soon be able to watch your favorite team’s games on Amazon Prime Video.
In the coming months, we can expect Bally Sports content to become available via Amazon Prime Video.
While we don’t have pricing or a timeline for availability just yet, this announcement is promising news for many sports fans across the country.
If you're paying for cable just to see the Braves play baseball games, for example, you may have a path to saving money by cutting the cord as soon as this upcoming season.
And if you're paying for a live TV streaming service that is charging you nearly $100 or more per month to access your Bally Sports RSN, you may be able to drop that service for a more cost-effective live streamer and get your RSN through Amazon's Prime Video Channels.
Though no official announcement has been made, it’s likely that these local games could be made available via a la carte subscription on the Amazon platform.
The Prime Video platform, an exclusive home to the NFL's Thursday Night Football broadcast, is widely regarded as one of the best video streaming service apps on the market.
Access to most of Prime Video’s content is included with an Amazon Prime subscription, but my best guess is that these Bally Sports RSNs are likely to carry an additional cost as a “Prime Channels” add-on.
Prime Video already offers RSN content from the YES Network, which is a channel that broadcasts games for the New York Yankees, via Prime Channels add-on.
Which Sports Teams Will This Impact and Will I Be Able To See Their Games on Amazon?
According to the Associated Press, “Diamond recently reached agreements with the NHL and NBA to keep local rights through the end of this season. It remains in discussions with MLB on reworked agreements for the upcoming season.”
In total, this could impact 37 teams across the MLB, NBA and NHL:
11 MLB Teams
- Atlanta Braves
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Guardians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Angels
- Miami Marlins
- Milwaukee Brewers
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Texas Rangers
15 NBA Teams
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Hornets
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Miami Heat
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Memphis Grizzlies
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Orlando Magic
- San Antonio Spurs
11 NHL Teams
- Anaheim Ducks
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Dallas Stars
- Detroit Red Wings
- Florida Panthers
- Los Angeles Kings
- Minnesota Wild
- Nashville Predators
- St. Louis Blues
- Tampa Bay Lightning
However, the answer to how this impacts each individual team is complicated.
There are details still likely to be worked out between Diamond Sports and Amazon before an official determination is made for every team that currently appears on a Bally Sports RSN.
And the complication goes beyond whether or not Diamond Sports successfully stays in business as a result of this Amazon investment.
A brief attempt to explain: Bally Sports owns the distribution rights for television AND streaming for some teams, while other teams only have contractual obligations to Bally Sports for television rights. Those teams retain the rights to streaming broadcasts of their teams. So Bally Sports doesn't have complete control over every team to say: "Your games will be streamed on Amazon."
Also, each of these teams has been diligently working behind the scenes on its plans for “post-bankruptcy” for Diamond Sports.
Many teams were planning to reacquire the distribution rights to the broadcast of their games (television, streaming, etc.) after their contracts expired with Diamond Sports. And some expire as soon as this year.
Because of the timing of these contractual terms, Amazon's investment in Diamond Sports may make the Prime Video platform a temporary home for games for some teams.
However, it may prove to be attractive enough to become a long-term home to teams. That, like much of this, is to be determined.
Will this news impact your local sports team? Will it change the way you view your streaming TV subscriptions? We’d love to hear your reaction in the Clark.com community.
The post Why Amazon May Soon Be the Solution for Streaming Your Favorite Sports Team appeared first on Clark Howard.