The new Bally Sports platform will expand access to games, for a fee – The Rink Live

MINNEAPOLIS – We’re a generation that has spent its days snoozing through the radio dial trying to find a faint distant signal for the Minnesota Gophers’ holiday game broadcast. However, the new world of cable, satellite and broadcast services, and their seemingly ever-changing programming offerings, means that for some viewers, trying to find their local TV teams has become more of a challenge.

Starting in late September, Bally Sports North will offer a subscription solution that they expect will put most of these challenges in the past. On September 26, Bally Sports Plus launches, giving viewers live access to NBA, NHL and college sports.

“We are really excited. It’s an opportunity for us to really give consumers more choice in how they access their games,” said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager for BSN. “It’s about reaching people who either don’t have never had access to Bally Sports or who have lost access in some way through their providers – Hulu and Dish Network and so on… They can access the games now and they can do it to a consumer base.”

There have been a flurry of complaints in recent years after carriers like Hulu, Dish Network, YouTube TV and others dropped regional sports networks from their packages. While DirecTV still carried Bally Sports North, many fans of the Gophers, Wild and Wolves are left without access if they are on long-term contracts with a carrier that no longer offers regional sports.

The launch of Bally Sports Plus means that for $19.99 per month or $189.99 per year, consumers can purchase direct access to BSN programming to stream on a smartphone, tablet or smart TV. Diamond noted that their programs will include NBA, NHL and college sports at first. There’s currently no deal in place to keep Major League Baseball on the new app, but they’re hoping something can be worked out by the start of the Twins’ 2023 season.

Snowbird temporary solution

While the Bally Sports Plus app is designed for use in a subscriber’s home market, there are some benefits for short-term travelers.

Imagine sitting by a pool in Florida or Arizona in the dead of winter and watching that night’s Wild game on your iPad. This scenario is possible, at least for a month, with the new app. Everything available on Bally Sports North’s linear channel will be available on the Bally Sports Plus app on an unlimited basis for those in the channel’s normal coverage area (Minnesota and the Dakotas, primarily).

“Let’s say you’re a snowbird and fly to Florida in the winter. You will be able to access (local programming) for 30 days. That’s a pretty industry standard if you take your device with you,” Dimond said. “On the 31st day, that device has to be returned to this market, and then it resets and you get another 30 days.”

For long-term, out-of-market access to NHL and NBA games, packages like NHL Center Ice and NBA League Pass are available for purchase to give buyers access to nearly all hockey and baseball games.

Back in the 1990s, things were simpler for college hockey fans in the Twin Cities. The Gophers played Friday and Saturday nights, and the Midwest Sports Channel carried almost every game. With the transition from the now-defunct WCHA to the Big Ten a decade ago, that was no longer the case. Bally Sports North still carries some Gopher games, but many of the conferences are broadcast on the Big Ten Network. And for those whose broadcasters have made programming changes, it’s hard to find the Gophers on TV sometimes. The new app is seen as a solution.

“That’s the perfect example of the audience we’re trying to reach, trying to serve and give them a choice now,” Diamond said. “We are still believers in the cable and satellite package and have great partners on a broad basis. But there are others like YouTube and Hulu that have chosen not to carry Bally Sports North and this gives them an opportunity for those subscribers to have direct access to those games.”

Players and coaches from Minnesota State University, Mankato, gathered at Vetter Stone Amphitheater to announce the schedule for Minnesota Hockey Day 2022, which Mankato will host for the first time. Contributed / Bally Sports North

In addition to NBA, NHL and college games, the new app will carry hunting and outdoor shows, poker and other programs that are popular with some viewers. Dimond also noted that all of BSN’s coverage of the annual Minnesota Hockey Day will be available to stream through Bally Sports Plus.

With this week’s release of the Big Ten hockey schedule, they expect the complete 2022-2023 Gopher hockey broadcast schedule on both the Big Ten Network and Bally Sports North to be announced in the coming weeks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *