Sinclair will launch sports streaming service this week

The coverage map of Sinclair’s regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)

The Sinclair Broadcast Group says it will launch its Bally Sports-branded regional sports streaming service later this week.

The streaming service will launch in five markets where Sinclair owns the regional sports cable network — Kansas City, Detroit, Miami, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee — at a cost of $20 a month or $190 a year.

Additional markets are expected after Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, company officials said.

In an interview with trade publication Broadcasting & Cable, Sinclair’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Weisbord said the streaming service is intended to reach customers who have dropped cable or satellite packages for cheaper, online-only options.

“We still think our distribution partners are very, very important to us,” Weisbord told the publication. “But what the leagues and we have to solve for is the next-gen viewer and be able to give them the apps and allow them to subscribe on the platform they want to watch. We’re looking at [direct-to-consumer streaming services] to bridge the gap.”

The app will launch on mobile phones first, though the company said it will eventually land on Roku devices. There was no information about support for other platforms like Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Weisbord said launching on phones first will allow the company to work out any technical issues that come with providing live video to streamers.

“The games themselves are our tent poles, so there’s a heightened level of scrutiny,” he said. “We have to on par with the Netflixes and the Disney Pluses.”

Beyond video, the app will eventually allow streamers to buy tickets to games, play fantasy sports and earn prizes.

“We want to entice the Xbox generation — that’s who we envision as being the heavy app user, and they’re used to interactivity,” Weisbord said.