Let’s start with the good news.
Mavericks and Stars fans in the Dallas area will have a cheaper, more direct way to watch Bally Sports Southwest game broadcasts this season after years of limited streaming access and confusion.
With the Stars’ opening their regular season Thursday and the Mavericks on Oct. 19, The Dallas Morning News has investigated how viewers can access their favorite teams’ games and whether the new Bally Sports+ platform will trump the ongoing conflict between streaming rights and regional sports network availability as the linear TV landscape has evolved.
Now for the not-so-good news:
It’s still cheaper to be a Mavericks fan who watches broadcasts outside of the Dallas area, and local headaches remain, according to a social media survey of about 100 Mavericks fans.
“My love for the Mavs came with Dirk, his love for his team, and his run for the championship,” one responded via email. “Now my daughter feels the same about Luka. So, the Mavs games are a must have. I got the Bally’s app last season and [it] wouldn’t let me [watch] it’s because I’m not a cable subscriber. Somehow, with all the magic these kids know how to work, she hacked into her grandmother’s account, with the help of a cousin, and bam, we’ve got the games on her phone that we have to broadcast onto the TV. It’s awful and embarrassing.”
Bally Sports+ might help solve that specific problem.
In an offering owner Sinclair Broadcast Group debuted last month, fans who live in the Dallas-area limits can sign up for Bally Sports+ for access to all live Bally Sports Southwest content by logging into the network’s app or website.
The standalone streaming option doesn’t require another cable or streaming subscription and is available at two price points:
- $19.99 a month ($21.64 after tax)
- $189.99 annually ($205.66 after tax)
Included in the Bally Sports+ subscription is the option to view all live Mavericks, Stars and WNBA Wings games, stream concurrently on two devices and maintain access for up to 30 days when traveling outside the home territory.
But Bally Sports+ doesn’t offer a DVR-like option to record a live event and watch the start of the game before it’s finished and uploaded for a full replay, nor does it include one of the major Dallas teams.
Also a Rangers fan?
Tough luck with Bally Sports+ — at least for now.
Sinclair remains at an impasse on streaming rights with most MLB teams that use the Bally Sports regional networks for their home broadcast operation.
The Bally Sports+ subscription serves as a $20-plus a month single-channel option — on top of what many will still pay for another full-package streaming or cable service with the most popular channels and programming.
Bally Sports Southwest is still not available on YouTube TV, Hulu Live or other popular streaming services, so a subscription to the few that do carry the channels — DirecTV Stream or typical cable options DirecTV and Spectrum — also might be more cost effective, even at a higher monthly price.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban launched a partnership last season to discount fans’ $80-plus DirecTV Stream subscriptions, but he isn’t concerned about the price point this year.
“We think the 20 dollars per month during the season is fair,” Cuban said via email.
Regardless of method, Mavericks fans outside Dallas still have the most logical access.
NBA League Pass blacks out any local-market games, but offers those outside the Dallas region full access to Mavericks broadcasts on Bally Sports Southwest at three price points:
- $13.99 for single-team monthly access.
- $14.99 for full-league monthly access with commercials on one device.
- $19.99 for full-league monthly access without commercials on two devices.
“In these very early days, prioritizing fan feedback and analyzing consumption habits is our top priority” Bally Sports+ chief operating officer and general manager Michael Schneider said in a statement. “[It] will be a vital part of our growth as we continue to work closely with our team partners to build awareness of this service with their respective fan bases.”
Local consumers who’ve considered a Bally Sports+ subscription have noticed the difference in price.
About one-third of the 100 Mavericks fans who participated in the survey about how they plan to watch games this season said they have bought Bally Sports+ — or plan to before the season opener Oct. 19 against the Phoenix Suns.
Many others said they wouldn’t — often referencing the high price point for a single channel, technical issues on the app before the new subscription started and disapproval of Sinclair.
Whether some instead use VPNs to circumvent local blackouts on NBA League Pass, share pirated links or only tune into the Mavericks’ 30 national broadcasts this season on ESPN, TNT, ABC or NBA TV, almost all lamented the difficulties of sustaining local fandom.
“The Mavericks are such an enjoyable team with a superstar approaching his prime,” one wrote, “and yet, [lack of broadcast access] is creating an unnecessary block to so many potential new Mavs fans IN DALLAS!”
Find more Mavericks coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.