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DirecTV will keep Bally Sports channels under multi-year agreement

Customers without access to Bally Sports in their DirecTV package will be able to purchase Bally Sports Plus through the satellite provider.

Customers without access to Bally Sports in their DirecTV package will be able to purchase Bally Sports Plus through the satellite provider.

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

Sinclair, Inc’s. regional sports broadcaster Diamond Sports Group has renewed its distribution agreement with DirecTV that will keep nearly two dozen Bally Sports-branded channels on the company’s satellite and streaming TV platforms for another few years.

The deal was announced Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Diamond Sports criticized DirecTV’s cable TV rival Comcast for not accepting an extension of its prior distribution agreement, which expired late Tuesday evening.

Unlike Comcast, customers of DirecTV won’t have to go without their local sports offered on the Bally Sports networks: Subscribers who have DirecTV Choice, Ultimate and Premier programming packages will still have access to live baseball, hockey and basketball games offered on Bally Sports channels, the companies said. Additionally, DirecTV customers will be able to use their satellite or streaming credentials to log into Bally Sports app, where they can watch live programming on their mobile devices. That feature is coming in the near future, the companies affirmed.

Customers who do not have Bally Sports in their programming package will be able to purchase a subscription to Diamond Sports’ standalone streaming service, Bally Sports Plus, with the option of having their subscription billed on their DirecTV account, the companies said.

“We are pleased to extend our relationship with DirecTV to provide high quality local sports telecasts for passionate fans in the home markets of our team partners,” David Preschalack, the CEO of Diamond Sports, said in a statement. “This is a significant development for Diamond, and we highly value the relationship we have built with DirecTV and their customers over the course of many years. We remain focused on executing the steps necessary to reorganize Diamond with a structure that drives sustainable value for our stakeholders, including our distributors and league and team partners.”

Rob Thun, the Chief Content Officer at DirecTV, said the company has always prided itself on being a leader in live sports, and “we continue to see significant opportunity for both our residential and commercial customers in local sports.”

“We want to ensure our customers receive more flexibility, choice and value, and this agreement provides them with those capabilities,” Thun said on Wednesday. “Diamond’s regional sports networks remain a key component of our live sports offering, and we look forward to working with Diamond and the many popular MLB, NBA, NHL, and other teams it retains for years to come under this new agreement.”

The deal with DirecTV marks several successful carriage renewals by Diamond Sports over the past few weeks. Last month, it inked new distribution deals with Cox Cable and Charter’s Spectrum TV that will keep its channels on those systems.

Diamond Sports is expected to re-brand its regional sports networks once its licensing deal with Bally Sports expires.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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