After a wide-ranging search, the New Orleans Pelicans have decided to continue their broadcasting partnership with Bally Sports New Orleans.
This week, the team finalized an agreement with Bally Sports that guarantees the Sinclair-owned regional sports network exclusive local rights to Pelicans games for the next few years.
The new deal is for five years, sources said. During negotiations, the Pelicans secured flexibility to pursue alternatives within that five-year window as they try to navigate a rapidly changing TV landscape.
An official announcement is expected later today.
Under the new agreement, Bally Sports will broadcast roughly 75 of the Pelicans’ regular-season games and select preseason games. Additionally, Bally Sports owns the rights to any games in a first-round playoff series.
Bally Sports is available to watch through AT&T U-Verse, Cox, DirecTV, DirecTV Stream and Spectrum.
In September, Bally Sports will launch Bally Sports+, a direct-to-consumer streaming service, in New Orleans and its surrounding areas.
Earlier this month, the New England Sports Network launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service, NESN360, which costs $29.99 per month or $329.99 annually. Subscribers get access to Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins games.
Bally Sports+ is expected to be less expensive than NESN360. The exact price point of Bally Sports+ in NBA markets has yet to be determined.
Bally Sports+ will be available on mobile devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku by the time the 2022-23 NBA season begins.
Making games more accessible to streamers was the Pelicans’ biggest priority as they negotiated a new local rights deal.
“Our fans want to consume Pelicans games with the least amount of friction,” vice president of communications and broadcasting Greg Bensel said. “The landscape in providing those options is quickly evolving. It is affecting many teams; this is not unique to us. We need to be positioned today and in the immediate future to meet our fans where they are, where they watch games.”
Bally Sports has partnerships with 16 NBA teams. In October 2020, two major streaming services, Hulu Live and YouTube TV, stopped carrying Bally Sports’ channels. There has been little progress between the two sides since.
The introduction of Bally Sports+ is an attempt to address the lack of streaming options in the marketplace.
Play-by-play voice Joel Meyers and color analyst Antonio Daniels will continue to call Pelicans games. Since they began working together in 2019, they have become one of the NBA’s most well-liked local broadcast duos. Both are team employees and would have received backing from team ownership to remain in their positions, regardless of which local rights partner the Pelicans had chosen.
In February, the Pelicans met with executives from NBC Sports to discuss a potential local rights partnership. With the help of Endeavor, a third-party company hired to consult on the new deal, the Pelicans canvassed the marketplace before ultimately re-signing with Bally Sports.
Bally Sports’ plans to roll out Bally Sports+ solidified the Pelicans’ confidence in continuing their partnership.
Bally Sports+ will go live in five MLB markets on Thursday, and this fall, it will be available in roughly half of all of the NBA’s local markets, including New Orleans.