ST. LOUIS — Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., the owner of Bally Sports Midwest, plans to roll out its local direct-to-consumer sports streaming service nationwide in September.
While the streaming service will provide local fans with a new outlet to watch St. Louis Blues telecast, its ability to broadcast games from the St. Louis Cardinals remains unknown.
Sinclair's nationwide expansion follows what executives described as a “better than expected” soft launch earlier this summer. The Baltimore-based broadcaster rolled out its direct-to-consumer service, which it’s calling Bally Sports+, to five markets on June 23, streaming MLB games in Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa.
Now, the service will go live in Sinclair’s remaining 14 regional sports networks (RSNs), including Bally Sports Midwest, on Sept. 26. In addition to Bally Sports Midwest, those markets include Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports Great Lakes, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports Southwest and Bally Sports West.
Notably, these markets will only have NBA and NHL games available; Sinclair (NASDAQ: SBGI) only has MLB streaming rights in the five markets that were part of the service’s soft launch. Sinclair executives said the process for acquiring streaming rights in other MLB markets is ongoing and these rights are being negotiated as teams renew their contracts.
On a conference call Thursday to discuss quarterly results for Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair subsidiary that owns the RSNs, Sinclair executives were upbeat about the launch of the streaming service so far.
CEO Chris Ripley declined to share subscription numbers but said he was “very pleased” with the soft launch so far and there have been minimal technical issues. Despite almost no marketing, subscription numbers have been “better than expected” and engagement with the service has been strong.
Sinclair has offered customers a seven-day free trial before signing up for the $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year cost. Ripley said 74% of free trial subscribers have converted to paying users and the company believes it is on track to meet its long-term goal of five to 10 million subscribers.
Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.