Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ:SBGI) will reportedly soft launch its Bally Sports+ streaming platform in select markets as soon as Thursday.
The Sports Business Journal reports the streaming offering will debut in five markets this week with the goal of rolling it out on a national level later this year. In November 2020, Bally’s announced a deal to attach its name to 21 regional sports networks (RSNs) owned by Sinclair. It’s believed the casino operator is paying $85 million over 10 years for those rights.
Bally Sports+ will launch this week in Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay — all markets that are homes to Major League Baseball (MLB) franchises.
With the aforementioned pact with Sinclair, the Bally’s brand joined forces with networks that have broadcasting rights for 12 NHL, 16 Major League Baseball (MLB), and 17 NBA teams.
Sinclair, Bally’s Streaming Designs
Sinclair acquired the 21 RSNs from Walt Disney for $10.6 billion in 2019 as part of the latter’s efforts to divest some assets to gain regulatory approval for its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. At the time, the networks, which bear the Fox Sports name, were reportedly valued at least $16 billion.
However, cord-cutting, some cable providers abandoning RSNs, and the coronavirus pandemic combined for a toxic brew for regional sports broadcasters. That forced bondholders to become skittish, because Sinclair paid just $1.4 billion in cash for the networks. The rest was financed via a mix of junk debt and loans.
The Sports Business Journal reports Sinclair will charge $20 a month or $190 annually for the new streaming plan. That’s favorable compared to the $30 monthly or $330 yearly tab NESN charges customers to stream Boston Bruins and Red Sox games. ESPN+ — the dominant sports streaming platform — charges $6.99 a month.
Bolstering content offerings and interactive programming will serve as a runway for the operator to broaden the reach of its Bally Bet app. It will also trim Bally’s advertising spend — a crucial perk, because one of the biggest outputs sportsbook operators face is advertising/customer acquisition costs.
Betting, Streaming Synergies
Sinclair believes it can garner 309,000 Bally Sports+ subscribers by the end of 2022 and that in a best-case scenario, that number could be as high as 975,000.
Amid the proliferation of regulated sports wagering in the US over the past several years, speculation surfaced that gaming companies could look to acquire streaming firms because virtual multichannel video programming distributors business (vMVPD) industry provides the added allure of revenue stream diversification.
Additionally, streaming is viewed as a potential enhancement to the lucrative in-game betting market that’s still in its nascent stages in the US, but no outright deals have materialized to that effect.
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