If you’ve been eagerly awaiting a standalone streaming app to watch the Cavs and Guardians, your patience will likely be tested in the months to come.
Those who cut the cord or turned to another TV provider that doesn’t provide access to Bally Sports, Sinclair Broadcasting’s regional sports networks here and across the country, have been looking for ways to watch these teams.
Analysis:The economy is probably not a friend for prospecting for a Bally Sports app
But Major League Baseball and NBA commissioners have canceled those chances with recent comments.
There are two areas where there is potential for significant revenue growth in professional sports: gambling and direct-to-consumer viewing rights.
The game will eventually take care of themselves state by state, as these legislatures grapple with their respective issues. The area where sports leagues have the most control comes with the latter.
Take control of your rights
“We have been very clear with them from the start that we see these two sets of rights [gambling and streaming] as extremely valuable to baseball, and we’re not just going to throw them away to help Sinclair, ”MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said at a recent conference covered by the Sports Business Journal.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recognizes the demographic forces at play.
“We’re very focused on redesigning the model in terms of the current distribution of our games, so that even though the games are on cable or satellite in the local market, fans who don’t choose to subscribe to a larger package are not disenfranchised from the league, ”he told the Denver Post. “The numbers are especially dramatic for our young fans who are usually not cable or satellite subscribers, or as far as they are, use it extensively to watch other platforms, using it as a provider. broadband. “
There is a generational schism in media consumption. The smartphone has become an indispensable device – despite a relatively small screen size – for watching everything from Netflix to, yes, live sports, and many young Americans are perfectly willing to pay for a broadband connection, but want to more freedom in programming.
Live sports remain popular with 73% of 18-34 year olds claiming to be avid or occasional fans, according to an online survey by Statista. The number is slightly higher for 35-44 year olds at 77 percent.
Bally Sports faces challenges
That brings us to Bally Sports, part of Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group, which pitched the idea of their standalone app earlier this year and the potential to raise $ 250 million to launch it. Burdened with debt from buying out the various regional sports networks that make up the company, Bally’s seemed optimistic about the prospect of being able to take away all the rights from the various teams they needed to make it work.
However, they probably know the challenges are even greater now: Cord cutting and streaming is the future and that future is fast approaching, according to a study by The Diffusion Group, a media research company.
Currently, 25 percent (38 million) of US homes have a high-speed Internet connection without subscribing to an over-the-air television service. Their research shows that will grow to 54 million households by 2025. These are households that will likely choose from a myriad of streaming services that match their habits and tastes, including sports.
This makes streaming rights extremely valuable in the coming paradigm. And don’t think MLB doesn’t know it. According to a New York Post report, they are already considering bringing a service to market – in partnership with the NBA and NHL – to solve this dilemma for consumers.
Some may balk or laugh at the prospect.
Despite all of its archaic attitudes in some ways, MLB has always understood the digital realm. They already have.
MLB has come this road
MLB Advanced Media was formed with league resources in 2000. Two years later they aired their first game – the Texas Rangers vs. the New York Yankees, which was accessible to anyone outside of these viewing areas. teams. It was eventually separated from MLB in 2015 under the name BAMTech.
Since its inception, it has grown to eventually provide streaming solutions for CBS March Madness, WWE, HBO Now, Sony Playstation Vue, the PGA, and the NHL. The Walt Disney Company acquired a controlling stake in the company in 2017.
Back in the days when MLBAM first formed, no one had a clue how quickly cord cutting and streaming would evolve at this point. It remains an immature market with significant room for growth. Manfred and Silver recognize him.
At this point, why would they give the goose that lays the golden eggs? This fact could leave local baseball and basketball fans without access to Bally’s local sports networks by waiting much longer.