All eyes in the sports and television businesses are on Detroit this week, along with four other markets, as Sinclair Broadcasting (which also owns Kalamazoo's WWMT-Ch. 3) soft launches a direct to consumer streaming version of its programming as Bally Sports Plus Detroit (the former Fox Sports Detroit, before the naming rights were sold.) The launch is Thursday, June 23rd, and will cost customers $19.99 per month or $189.99 per year.

Previously the games and programming on Bally Sports Detroit were only available via cable or satellite, or as part of bundled packages. Sinclair is the second to launch this direct to consumer service. New England's NESN started last week at a higher price point, $30 per month.

What's created are multiple factors. The most obvious development is the number of consumers who are "cord-cutting", cancelling their cable or satellite programming, in part due to the cost, which for many is in triple-digits when you factor in premium services and the cost of internet. But that's a double edged sword for companies like Sinclair, which depend on viewership to generate revenue. In Michigan, Sinclair pays the Detroit sports teams a lot of money for, in their case, exclusive rights to broadcast their games. Add to that Sinclair spent some $9 Billion dollars three years ago to buy these former Fox Sports RSN's. (Regional Sports Network), but, as one example, Bally Sports and others have not been on Dish Network due to disputes over how much money the channel should paying for the programming.

Ah, programming. What may be the ultimate key to whether this venture succeeds is the way the Detroit teams play. The past few season have been rough, but if the Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings become hot commodities on the playing field, then people will certainly want to watch their heroes in action.

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(Bally Sports Detroit via YouTube)

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