Monday, February 28, 2022

Finally a standalone sports package, but is it enough?

For many sports fans that stream, a standalone sports package -- one that doesn't require other non-sports packages -- would be wonderful thing. Today, if you want to stream ESPN, you have to have a subscription to a service such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, Vidgo, Fubo, or DirecTV Stream. The cheapest of those includes a lot of non-sports. In fact, all of those simply streaming cable-like packages. The difference is that you use the Internet to get them, and subscriptions are one month at a time, not years at a time.

You can get packages without sports, the most popular of those are Philo and Frndly.TV, but you can't get one that's only sports. Fubo started as a mostly-soccer channel. Fubo, futbol. See? But it became simply another streaming-cable package. Well, mostly. It's still pretty sports heavy, and not just soccer.

Over the last few year, many of these live-streaming/streaming-cable packages dropped the regional sports networks. Fox Sports Net channels disappeared from the live streaming services after Fox sold them. They finally became Bally Sports networks. And guess who is launching a steaming sports package? Bally.

In a meeting recently, Chris Ripley, the CEO of Sinclair, which owns Bally Sports, said they would offer live streaming packages this year.

Our current expectations are for the launch of streaming services with content currently available on our RSNs for 5 Bally Sports RSNs with MLB teams in the first half of 2022. We expect to launch our remaining Bally Sports RSNs in the second half of the year, as well as features only subscription.

This isn't what I particularly want, as my primary interest is college football, which currently means ESPN. But, it's a start. And it does give lots of sports fans an option they didn't have before.

Sinclair, to my understanding, hasn't been thrilled with how their purchase of the Fox regional sports networks has worked out. I don't know how this will work out. But if it is a success, and it entices other companies to offer standalone sports packages that include major sports, this would be what sports fans want.

If that does come, I certainly don't want these smaller audience packages to go away. I don't want the lesser watched sports offerings to go away. The content you find on the regional sports networks do not have widespread audiences. Regional is a part of the name for a reason. And the lesser watched sports, such as what you find on ESPN+ has an audience. I don't want that to go away. I want ESPN to expand its coverage, not necessarily into ESPN+ -- how it happens isn't as important as that it happens.

This year's launch by Bally is a good thing. I hope it succeeds. That would be good news for many sports fans. I would really like to have options for standalone sports packages in my Streaming Life.

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