UPDATE (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.): Acknowledging the problems that resulted in subscribers to its streaming service being unable to watch NHL and NBA games this past week, Bally Sports on Saturday offered to apply a seven-day credit to their accounts.
In an email sent to subscribers, the network said it “encountered some issues we didn’t anticipate” while instituting some new updates to its app.
DEVELOPING: Subscribers to the Bally Sports streaming service were unable to watch most of Bally Sports Sun’s broadcast of the Lightning’s 4-2 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday night in Columbus due to a glitch with the network’s app, the latest issue with the team’s TV rights holder.
There were no issues with the broadcast on cable (Spectrum), satellite (DirecTV) or other streaming services (Fubo) with the Bally Sports networks.
The app glitch affected subscribers to Bally Sports’ regional direct-to-consumer streaming service in other markets as well, including Detroit, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Milwaukee, interfering with their ability to view local NHL and NBA games.
Bally Sports Sun streaming subscribers reported encountering a similar problem with the app Monday while trying to watch the Lightning’s game against the Kraken.
Subscribers were unable to log in before Thursday’s 7 p.m. Lightning game, instead getting a long lag followed by a pop-up window saying, “Out of Bounds: We are having trouble loading your page.” Multiple attempts netted the same result. At 7:32, Bally said it had been notified of the issue and was working to resolve it. At 10:44, well after the game had ended, Bally announced the problem had been fixed.
There was a widespread issue with the app’s third-party identity service, Okta, that caused sign-in problems with some of its clients, the Detroit Free Press reported.
On Friday, Bally Sports continued to work through issues that were causing intermittent outages on its app and website.
Bally Sports will offer credits to affected customers. Those affected can reach the network’s customer service team at help.ballysports.com.
When Sinclair Sports purchased the former Fox Sports regional sports networks four years ago and rebranded them under the Bally Sports umbrella, it promised to revolutionize live-event sports streaming with a high-tech, comprehensive app that would include interactive stats and an in-app sports wagering feature.
That hasn’t happened. Diamond Sports, the company that operates the 19 Bally Sports regional networks that broadcast games for about 70 NHL, Major League Baseball and NBA teams, was saddled with $8.6 billion in debt and in March filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring to consolidate its debt and remain operational.
Shortly before then, as Bally’s rights-holder deal with the Lightning was about to expire, the network made an agreement with the team to renew its contract. The length and details of the agreement have not been revealed.
Lightning viewership on Bally Sports Sun in 2022-23 was up 60% over the previous year. Rays viewership was up 27% this season compared with 2022, according to Nielsen data.
Over the years, disputes over fees that cable companies pay to networks to be able to carry them — called carriage fees — have made the Bally Sports networks less readily available to viewers, as cable providers (Frontier) and streaming services (YouTube TV, Hulu) have dropped the Bally Sports networks from their subscription packages.
Bally Sports then focused its efforts on its direct-to-consumer subscription service, which costs $19.99 per month and $189.99 for a year. This year the company introduced cheaper seasonal plans for viewers who want to watch only during a specific sports season.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieintheYard.
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