When YouTube TV first launched, it was heavily focused on sports content. Now, there’s very little sports available, without using its new Sports add-on package. Why is that? Sinclair. When Disney bought Fox’s two studios, it also bought its regional sports networks. However, for the deal to close, it needed to sell off those RSNs since it already owned ESPN. So, Sinclair swooped in and bought them, renaming them to Bally Sports.
After that, Sinclair slowly but surely removed its Bally Sports channels from streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Right now, only DIRECTV Stream has Bally Sports, and that is likely because their contract hasn’t come up for renewal yet. Why is Sinclair removing these channels? It’s simple. They want their own streaming service. It was set to launch this Spring, but then was pushed back.
We’ve talked at length about Bally Sports Plus and why it’s a bad idea for Sinclair, so we won’t go into a lot of detail about that here.
Because of this, YouTube TV needed to add more sports channels, but unfortunately, it’s unable to add the channels everyone wants. If you follow YouTube TV on Twitter, you’ve likely noticed every tweet they send has replies about adding Bally Sports back. I really wish that YouTube TV would just come out and tell everyone to pester Sinclair for it back. Since it’s Sinclair unwilling to make a deal and not YouTube TV.
YouTube TV still wants to be the place for sports, even without Bally Sports
The Bally Sports networks are home to more than half of the NBA, MLB and NHL teams in the country. So that’s a pretty big amount of sports that YouTube TV users aren’t able to watch, because Sinclair is greedy. But YouTube TV knows that it won’t be able to get Bally Sports back anytime soon, so it is adding other channels to hopefully compensate for that.
Recently, YouTube TV announced a new add-on called Sports Plus. This one does require the base plan which is $64.99 per month. While Sports Plus is another $10.99/month (or you can prepay the annual plan for $79.99 which makes it a lot cheaper, roughly $6.60/month).
But is that package worth it? It might be for some people. The package includes: NFL RedZone, beIN SPORTS, FOX Soccer Plus, VSiN, Outside Television+, PokerGO+, MAVTV, TVG, Stadium, GOLTV, Billiard TV, SportsGrid, PlayersTV, Fight Network, and IMPACT Wrestling. A lot of these channels, you’ve probably never heard of. And you won’t be getting any additional games from the NBA, MLB or NHL.
However, YouTube TV does also offer MLB.TV and NBA.TV for additional cash each month. But the issue with those is that, your home team games are usually blacked out. So if you’re like me, and live in the metro Detroit area and want to use MLB.TV to watch the Detroit Tigers play, well, you can’t. Since they have very few primetime or nationally broadcast games, that means you will see very few games on MLB.TV.
Sports are an issue YouTube TV really needs to fix
Obviously, Sinclair removing Bally Sports is not YouTube TV’s fault, but it is affecting them more than it is Sinclair. But we are paying the same for YouTube TV as we were with sports, and now we essentially just have ESPN and FS1/FS2 for Sports. Without paying for any of the add ons. That’s a problem.
Sure, YouTube TV will argue that they are paying more for other channels and have added many more channels to the service. Like the ViacomCBS channels which are usually very expensive, the most expensive if you don’t count sports.
YouTube TV could probably lower the price down to $50 per month, and it would be an easier pill for its subscribers to swallow. But YouTube TV is likely waiting for Sinclair to launch its streaming service, and then for it to fail, so that they will want to bring up their agreements with YouTube TV and others, once again.
What would be smart for YouTube TV though, would be to bundle the Bally Sports Plus service with YouTube TV when it launches. Maybe for $5 more per month, you get all of your local sports once again. But it’s a big problem for YouTube TV right now.