Losing Bally Sports is a winner for Texas Rangers' fans
Bally Sports from day one had one arm tied behind its back when it came to covering Texas Rangers' baseball. Bally was in charge of the television distribution for the Texas Rangers. The in-market streaming rights belonged to the team. The out-of-market streaming rights belonged to MLB. Bally has spent considerable time and resources launching Bally Sports plus. It was their subscription streaming service that they charge upwards of $20 per month for. They sold fans on being able to watch their favorite teams without having to have a cable subscription. If you were a fan of the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, or Dallas Stars then you could watch their games. If you were a fan of the Texas Rangers you could not.
The Texas Rangers and MLB refused to hand over the streaming rights to Bally Sports as the company went through bankruptcy proceedings throughout the 2023 season. It became increasingly difficult for fans to access Bally Sports unless they were signed up for cable or had a Directv Stream subscription. The ability for much of the fan base to watch Texas Rangers games did not exist. Bally Sports was not carried on Youtube TV or Hulu Live. It will be good news for fans if this agreement is finalized in court in the coming weeks.
The Texas Rangers have been trying to get their media rights back since April of 2023. Now they might get them back this offseason. Texas would then be able to go to market having just won the World Series and try to negotiate carriage agreements throughout Texas the regional viewing area. They would also be able to sell in-market streaming subscriptions for cord-cutters. Texas will have the opportunity to sell its team to a much wider audience than is currently able to consume Texas Rangers baseball.
The downside of this is that when all the contracts are signed it likely will be for far less than $111 million that Texas was scheduled to collect in 2024 from Bally Sports. The ability to market their product to more people will widen their reach across Texas and the Southwest region. It will lead to more people consuming their product, more people watching their games, and more people buying their merchandise. If ever there was a good time for this to happen it is now. The high of winning the World Series and selling networks on being the home of the World Series Texas Rangers will lead to deals being struck.
Short term this will be a financial hit for Texas. It could impact what they are able to do this winter as far as adding to the team. It will be less money coming to the team. It is a winner for the fans and good for the game. More people being able to watch the Texas Rangers play is always better than fewer people being able to watch them. I guarantee that Texas will make up some of those losses from what will likely be a massive increase in season ticket sales and single-game ticket sales in 2024. I think the real impact will come after the 2024 season when Texas is likely to be aiming to get under the tax for the 2025 season. That is when the loss of the Bally Sports revenue will be really felt.