The anticipated release of a Bally Sports North standalone app now has a launch date: Sept. 26.
In a little over a month, local sports fans who have been frustrated by the disappearance of Bally Sports North from lower-cost streaming services will have the ability to pay $19.99 a month or $189.99 per year for access to the channel.
The release is part of a nationwide full launch for all the Bally Sports regional networks.
In terms of immediate impact, it will give Bally Sports North app subscribers access to the Timberwolves and the Wild just as those seasons are about to start in October. Indeed, in the promotional poster produced for the national release, images of both Anthony Edwards and Kirill Kaprizov are sprinkled in among other star players.
Currently, the only way to legally stream BSN without a long-term contract is via DirecTV Stream, which costs $89.99 a month. As part of an ongoing carriage dispute, Bally Sports regional channels were dropped from YouTube TV, Hulu and Sling, among others, at various points in the last few years.
So the standalone app is a considerably lower price point for "cord cutters" who don't want to pay for cable/satellite or the full DirecTV Stream package.
But there are still some caveats when it comes to BSN.
Bally Sports did an FAQ about the new app, and it is notable that there are not currently carriage rights for Twins games. Per the FAQ:
Bally Sports currently has the rights to stream the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays on Bally Sports+. We are in discussions with MLB and our other MLB team partners to expand our offering next year.
Also it should be noted that a subscription covers only the RSN in your coverage area — Bally Sports North for most of you — but does not give access to other channels/teams.
What remains to be seen is how many people will pay a fairly high premium for access to local sports. Obviously adding the Twins by the start of the 2023 MLB season would be a big deal for local subscribers, creating the incentive to keep paying for the service year-round.
We should have a better idea soon as to the viability of this model.