Twins watching closely as Sinclair launches Bally Sports+, a new streaming service
Sinclair, which owns Bally Sports North, soft launched Bally Sports+, a direct-to-consumer streaming service, last week available for fans to stream Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals games
CLEVELAND — Cord-cutting Twins fans may have another option to watch the team in the near future — if they’re willing to part with $20 a month.
Sinclair, which owns Bally Sports North, soft launched Bally Sports+, a direct-to-consumer streaming service, last week available for fans to stream Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals games. The service currently priced is at $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year.
“We’re watching it closely,” Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said. “We fully recognize and understand the urgency for the Twins to be able to offer our fans what they want, which is more access to our games, whether that be via linear cable satellite television or via streaming.”
So how soon could Twins games be available through Bally Sports+?
Streaming rights themselves are controlled at the league level, and Bally would need league approval to carry Twins games, for one.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be sooner versus later,” St. Peter said. “But certainly, realistically, some of that’s out of our control. … I don’t have the ability to do a streaming deal with Sinclair on my own.”
Asked what exactly “sooner versus later means,” St. Peter said he thought it was unlikely that Twins games would be available on the new service this season, though he cautioned to “never say never.” Next season seems to be a more realistic possibility.
“We’re certainly looking at it with the hopes of getting this addressed certainly over the course of the next, I would say hopefully, months, not years,” he said.
The agreement between Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV to carry Bally Sports Regional Networks expired in 2020, leaving cord-cutting fans in the Twin Cities — and around the country — frustrated the past few years as they are unable to watch their favorite teams on their chosen platform. Sling TV and fuboTV also do not carry Bally RSNs.
Bally Sports+ would give those fans another streaming option. Currently, the only streaming option is DirecTV Stream, whose base package starts at $69.99 per month.
But the hitch is that Bally Sports+ it’s an extra cost, one that could potentially price out viewers who cut the cord in search of a more affordable option than cable.
“We know that there is significant interest from our fans (for) the option of following the Twins via streaming. I don’t know specifically how they feel about the proposed rate structure that Sinclair is going to market with,” St. Peter said. “It’s a pilot program for Sinclair, so they’re going to learn a lot as well. We’re all going to watch it and see how it does in these markets.”
The Twins will soon need to renegotiate their contract with Bally Sports North. An industry source indicated that the Twins-BSN deal expires over the next couple of years.
Jorge Polanco was on the bench for Thursday’s game, which manager Rocco Baldelli said was planned. In the past, Baldelli said when Polanco returned from a few days off dealing with aches and pains, the Twins have played him constantly without a break. This time around, Baldelli said, the medical staff wanted Polanco to play for a couple days and then get a day off. … Thursday marked pitching coach Wes Johnson’s last day with the team before leaving to take over as pitching coach at Louisiana State University. The Twins are expected to officially announce their plans to replace him on Friday. … The Twins will send Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray and Devin Smeltzer to the mound this weekend against Baltimore at Target Field.
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