In late September, the launch of the Bally Sports Plus standalone app brought a mix of skepticism, cautious optimism and — as always — complaints about money.
At $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year, local fans who didn't want to pay for cable and/or who had seen Bally Sports channels disappear from satellite or streaming services in the last couple of years, had an option.
But there was a catch: At the time of launch, Bally's parent company, Diamond Sports, only had widespread agreements to show NHL and NBA games on the app. It has been marketed incessantly on Twitter to Minnesota fans as a great option to watch the Wild and Wolves.
As a cord cutter myself, having ditched an expensive cable package before eventually landing on Hulu+ Live TV — only to have Bally Sports North disappear from that platform as it has so many others in a squabble over pricing — I signed up for the app and have been more or less happy with it.
I'm not thrilled to be paying $20 a month for something that used to be part of another package, but the app itself has been relatively user-friendly on both mobile and through Roku (save for the occasional audio glitch that our household lovingly refers to as "demon voice").
I wanted access to the Wolves and Wild. Those leagues are in-season, so focusing on them makes sense. But there's still the looming question: Will baseball fans enjoy similar coverage? When the app launched, only five MLB markets were included — and ours isn't one of them.
The season is months away, so there's time for a resolution. But April will be here before we know it, so I asked Twins President Dave St. Peter recently where we stand. (You can hear our full conversation covering multiple topics on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast).
"There isn't an issue that we're dealing with that's more important than that issue," St. Peter said. "It's complicated — more complicated than it probably needs to be. ... Here in Minnesota we're in an active conversation with Diamond Sports, which the parent company of Bally Sports North, we're in an active conversation with Major League Baseball, and it's certainly my hope that we're going to have as widespread accessibility to our games starting in 2023 as is possible. But it remains to be seen what form that's going to take."
I appreciate St. Peter's willingness to talk about the subject, but it does feel at this point like we're still in a wait-and-see mode when it comes to the availability of the Twins on the Bally app.
Without an MLB local option, there's no way I would consider paying for a full year of the app, and I likely would drop it during May-September.
So if it's St. Peter's biggest issue, it should also be Diamond Sports' biggest issue.