The timing of the deal coincides with a broader rollout of the $20-a-month, sports-centric subscription streaming service, which offers live sports and analysis programming in more than 20 media territories across the United States.
“Our regional sports audiences include some of the most loyal viewers, and we are excited to expand our reach as we officially launch Bally Sports Plus, offering fans even more ways to watch their hometown teams,” Michael Schneider, the chief operating officer of Bally Sports Plus, said in a statement. “Roku shares our same passion for delivering live, local sports to fans across the country on a nightly basis. They have been fantastic partners in servicing our pay TV viewers, and we look forward to growing our partnership with the addition of our direct-to-consumer offering.”
In addition to Roku devices, Bally Sports Plus is available on Amazon Fire TV, Android TV (Google TV), Apple TV and Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets. The service is also available to stream via the Bally Sports website.
The streaming service is launching amid reports that Sinclair may be trying to divest its Diamond Sports subsidiary, which includes around 20 Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks that it acquired three years ago from the Walt Disney Company. Since the acquisition, Sinclair has largely struggled to get carriage deals with cable, satellite and streaming companies for the sports networks, which necessitated a standalone, direct-to-consumer streaming service.
The Bally Sports Plus streaming service launched across five metropolitan areas in June, including Kansas City, Miami and Milwaukee. The service costs $20 a month or $190 a year. In an interview with a trade publication, a Sinclair official said the streaming service helps fill the gap between customers on traditional cable and satellite platforms and those who have decided to drop expensive pay TV packages for streaming-only options.
“We still think our distribution partners are very, very important to us,” the executive, Robert Weisbord, told Broadcasting & Cable. “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.”