Streaming remains the future of the television medium, yet it's taken a while for the world of professional sports to fully break with tradition to jump on board. Fortunately, progress is being made, with Peacock earning its largest day of streaming yet with its NFL playoff game, but it's looking like Amazon Prime just took another big leap forward in being the best streaming service for sports fans. Having already secured the rights to Thursday Night Football, Amazon is now becoming a minority owner of Diamond Sports Group and its Bally Sports banner.
In a deal announced by Diamond Sports (via BusinessWire), Amazon invested to become the streaming provider of all teams currently under an agreement with Bally Sports. While a date has not been announced for when this will go into affect, those with a Prime subscription will have the ability to watch NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, provided they're in the local area. A list of the teams currently under agreement with Bally Sports can be found below:
Detroit Red Wings
Kansas City Royals
St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Blues
New Orleans Pelicans
Columbus Blue Jackets
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Clippers
San Antonio Spurs
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Lightning
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Kings
What is unknown at this point is how much audiences will need to pay for this access. While Thursday Night Football's price is covered by the cost of an Amazon Prime subscription, the Amazon/Bally agreement notes that customers can purchase access to stream. Currently, it costs $19.99 monthly for access to Bally Sports on streaming and $189.99 for a full year.
The 25 Best Sports Movies
The deal is a big win for those who use services like YouTube TV, which does not include Bally Sports in its lineup of channels. The service rolled out its own streaming app for those without cable, but users in markets that carry the service have complained about the app's quality and reported having to miss games due to issues with the service. Hopefully, with Prime Video holding the rights to broadcasts, some of those woes will disappear.
Amazon's move to secure a chunk of streaming rights to almost forty professional sports teams around the United States is a wise move, as 2023 revealed a massive cord-cutting milestone. As of last year, only 48% of Americans had a subscription to a cable or satellite company, suggesting that streaming is taking over. The unfortunate side effect is that streaming service prices are increasing as of 2024, and cord-cutting is no longer as cheap of an option as it once was years ago.
Additionally, it appears that this recent deal may result in fans of franchises in different areas subscribing to different streamers if it's even possible. There are also instances like the MLB's agreement with Apple that makes Friday Night Baseball only available with an Apple TV+ subscription, which could make watching every baseball game on a streamer impossible. Ultimately, it's going to have the same problems as normal streaming services have with retaining shows and movies, but at least sports fans will have more access and potentially one less streaming service to pay for once this deal is done.
While this is a big win for streaming sports, it's also a lifesaver of a move from Amazon, whose investment is allowing Diamond Sports Group to set up a restructuring plan to escape bankruptcy, having filed for Chapter 11 protection in March 2023. At the time, the company noted it was in debt to the tune of $8.67 billion.
As mentioned, more details are on the way for when this deal with Amazon will go into effect, as it needs to be approved by bankrupty courts before that can happen. In the meantime, it's never a bad call to check out what's going on with Prime Video, and no shortage of entertaining shows and movies to enjoy between all that sports watching.