Would you pay $23 a month to watch the Royals?
That’s the price that Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns Bally Sports Kansas City, is floating to potential investors for their own stand-alone streaming service, according to The New York Post. Sinclair is attempting to raise $250 million for the project, with an anticipated launch date by next year’s Opening Day. The broadcasting giant owns 21 regional sports networks, as well as a 20 percent stake in the YES Network, which airs Yankees games.
Fans have been clamoring for more streaming options to watch Royals games ever since services began dropping Bally Sports Kansas City in fee disputes with Sinclair. In the past year, streaming services Sling TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, Hulu, as well as DISH Network, a satellite service, have all dropped the channel from their lineup, leaving AT&T Now as the only stream-only service carrying Royals games. Sinclair purchased Bally Sports Kansas City (formerly known as Fox Sports Kansas City) and 21 other regional sports networks in 2019 for $9.6 billion giving them exclusive rights to 14 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams, and 12 NHL teams. Sinclair is known for being a tough negotiator, and the news they are developing their own channel may explain why they have taken such a hard stance against other streaming services.
Games would still be unavailable to out-of-market fans. This would not affect cable customers, who still make up the great majority of television content consumers. Sinclair would still need to gain approval from MLB and other leagues to proceed.
The move would come with some risk, according to Greg Bouris, the Sports Management Program Director at Adelphi University and former communications director for the MLB Players Association.
“I think the economics will go backwards and this could be very disruptive. If I was a team owner, I’d be a little nervous.”
Sinclair is projecting to break-even by 2024, with 4.4 million streaming customers by 2027. Streaming service industry analyst Jason Gurwin of The Streamable anticipates Sinclair could also tie subscription prices to in-app gambling. The Bally’s Corporation, which purchased the naming rights to the regional sports networks, is involved in the gambling business, and Sinclair has talked about integrating gambling with the sports-watching experience.