Remember not being able to watch Hurricanes, Hornets on TV? A new service fixes that

·3 min read
Karl B DeBlaker/AP

Sports events like Carolina Hurricanes hockey, Charlotte Hornets basketball and some ACC football and basketball games unavailable to North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia viewers on a number of satellite and streaming services last season will be available beginning Sept. 26.

Of course, there’s a new fee involved.

Bally Sports announced Wednesday it is launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service, Bally Sports+, that will make regional sports networks like Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast available next month for $19.99 per month or $189.99 annually.

“Today is a significant step for the RSN industry as we offer local sports fans across our Bally Sports footprint a new way to watch their hometown teams,” Chris Ripley, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We view Bally Sports+ as a great complement to the incredible value our distribution partners provide our linear networks; and with both models, we are uniquely positioned to help our team partners grow their fan bases for years to come.”

The Bally Sports networks that provide local coverage of Hurricanes and Hornets games were not available on many popular streaming services like Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV and Sling. The channels were available in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia on cable and satellite services Spectrum, AT&T U-verse and DIRECTV.

Formerly known as Fox Sports South or Fox Sports Southeast, the Bally networks were acquired by Sinclair Broadcasting in 2019. Since then, it allowed contracts with a number of cable and satellite providers to expire and some viewers, particularly cord-cutters, were unable to watch their regional sports networks.

That changed in some regions earlier this year. In June, Bally Sports+ rolled out in five markets — Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Sun and Bally Sports Wisconsin. The move proved successful enough that the remaining 14 regions, including the Carolinas, will have access to the services next month.

“Launching a streaming service like Bally Sports+ across 19 different regions, all with unique content offerings, is an unprecedented undertaking,” Bailey Sports+ general manager Michael Schneider said in a statement. “This full introduction marks a key moment in the evolution of RSNs, but it is also a great moment for local fans who now have another viewing option for their favorite teams.”

The streaming service launches just in time for the start of the NHL and NBA regular seasons. The Hurricanes play their first regular-season game Oct. 12 at home against Columbus. The Hornets open Oct. 19 at San Antonio.

As of now, Bally Sports+ is available on the following platforms — tvOS, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV. Subscribers can also access it via the web, mobile or tablets at BallySports.com.

The subscription only allows viewers to access the regional sports network programming showing in their local areas.

In addition to the Hurricanes and Hornets, Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast provide local coverage of basketball and hockey games for the Atlanta Hawks, Nashville Predators and Memphis Grizzlies.

As for coverage of baseball’s Atlanta Braves, that remains unresolved for this season. At this point, Bally Sports is only contracted to stream games for the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays in their local markets via Bally Sports+.

Bally Sports is in discussions with Major League Baseball to add more teams next year.