Fans of several NBA and NHL teams that have gotten used to watching games on Bally Sports regional sports networks won’t have to adjust to new broadcasters anytime soon. While that might be good enough news on its own, there are even more implications for sports bettors when it comes to in-app streaming.
The renewal of Sinclair’s broadcasting rights with those two leagues and the expansion of Bally Bet into new markets creates the potential for a good deal of in-app streaming of live games. Exactly when and where that might begin is still fuzzy, though.
Sinclair opens the door to in-app streaming
On Thursday, Sinclair Broadcast Group renewed its broadcast rights with the NBA. The deal covers 16 NBA franchises like the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, and Phoenix Suns.
In addition to carrying local broadcasts of games for those 16 teams, Sinclair also keeps the rights to provide streaming options to customers. The same goes for Sinclair’s recent re-up with the NHL.
In that deal, Sinclair kept its hold on rights for the Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, and Nashville Predators. So, what does that have to do with Bally’s? Plenty.
In November of 2020, Bally’s and Sinclair joined forces. In exchange for giving a minority stake to Sinclair, Bally’s got the naming rights to all those regional sports networks and a lot of exposure on Sinclair’s digital plus over-the-air channels.
At that time, the announcement included the intent to combine,
“Bally’s vertically integrated, proprietary sports betting technology and expansive market access footprint with Sinclair’s premier portfolio.”
These digital rights will play into that to some degree. It’s just a matter of how much and where that might be available.
Bally Bet as a platform for live streams?
Bally Bet has active online sports betting licenses in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, New York, and Virginia. It is taking wagers in all of those markets except for AZ and NY right now. Due to Bally’s extensive presence in Louisiana, the online launch of Bally Bet in most of LA seems imminent as well.
Due to its widespread digital rights, there are several places where those licenses intersect. For example, Coyotes and Suns fans, along with Pelican’s faithful, will someday have access to Bally Bet as they watch those games on Bally Sports.
When that someday comes, those bettors might only need one device to both bets on and watch those games. There would be some geofencing restrictions to that possibility, however. Those fans would need to be in AZ or one of 55 LA parishes, respectively, to place their bets.
Additionally, digital rights usually come with territorial restrictions as well. So, these intersections might be few and far between. Regardless, in those markets, the ability to stream NBA and NHL games live would be a differentiator for Bally Bet.
There’s another caveat to how successful that might be. Bally’s and Sinclair are currently working on a workaround, though.
Sinclair streaming product to launch later this year
One of the biggest problems for any sports broadcast rights holder has always been carriage for those broadcasts. Cable and satellite providers act as a middleman providing access to viewers. At times, those contracts can be expensive and restrictive, though.
Sinclair is looking to cut out the middleman by offering its streaming content directly to consumers. It plans to launch that service later this year. It will be Sinclair’s version of Disney+ and HBO Max.
Whether that would coincide with live streaming of NBA and NHL games in the Bally Bet app is uncertain. It’s also unclear whether Bally Bet users would need a subscription to Sinclair’s streaming platform to view that content.
Bally Bet could be another access point for that content, though. In an industry where competitors tend to offer similar products otherwise, in-app streaming might be Bally Bet’s selling point.