Of all the tricks I’ve written about to lower your streaming TV bill, this one using Spectrum and Bally Sports regional networks is by far the strangest.
This week I discovered that Spectrum internet subscribers can watch off-the-shelf Major League Baseball games and other Bally Sports coverage for free without a pay-TV subscription. All you have to do is log into the Bally Sports app with your Spectrum credentials and you’ll have access to the live channel and full match replays.
Most ISPs only offer access to the Bally Sports app live stream if you pay for the cable channel as part of a full TV package. So it’s unclear why Spectrum customers can get it for free. Neither Spectrum nor Sinclair, which owns those channels, have responded to a request for comment.
But if you’re a Spectrum internet customer, it’s best not to question that. Just enjoy free local baseball while it lasts.
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How to watch free local baseball with Spectrum
The main purpose of the Bally Sports app is to allow cable and satellite TV subscribers to watch the live channel on their streaming devices. Similar to other TV Everywhere apps, you’ll need to sign up with your TV provider, who will then verify that your pay-TV package includes the channel before granting access.
But after coming across several Reddit threads where Spectrum subscribers claimed they could only access the channel with internet services, I decided to try it myself. Sure enough, by logging into the Bally Sports app with my Spectrum account, I had access to the Bally Sports channel and local Cincinnati Reds games.
Jared Newman / Foundry
The sign-up steps are pretty simple:
Install the Bally Sports app available on Roku, Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox and Playstation consoles, iOS, Android and web. (You can also use AirPlay to send video from an iOS device to compatible LG and Samsung TVs, or use Chromecast with Vizio TVs.)
Scroll down to the “Connect Provider” button. (Do not confuse this with the Sign In button used to set up a Bally Sports account.)
Visit ballysports.com/activate on your phone or computer, enter the code displayed on your TV, then select Spectrum from the list of TV providers.
Sign in to your Spectrum account and the Bally Sports TV app should update with access to the live channel.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Of course, a disclaimer is in order: while this has worked for me and at least six readers I spoke to, a few Redditors have said so not work for her. I also heard from a Twitter user who said that sometimes the stream can be glitchy. This is an odd, inexplicable workaround that you probably shouldn’t rely on as the linchpin of your cable-cutting strategy.
How long it will take?
I’m also aware that by posting this workaround – and asking each company’s PR reps about it – I’m increasing the likelihood that Bally Sports or Spectrum could shut them down. Then again, I’ve repeatedly begged people to never pay for Paramount+, and that doesn’t seem to have stopped Paramount from giving away its streaming service month after month. I have no illusions about my sphere of influence.
So my hope is that this gap will at least remain open until Sinclair finalizes his standalone streaming plans. Next month, the company plans to soft-launch a service called Bally Sports+, which will offer regional sports coverage for $20 a month with no pay-tv package.
However, Sinclair only has the streaming rights to five MLB teams — the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays — along with 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.
Jared Newman / Foundry
Instead of an unbundled option, the only official way to stream Bally Sports channels is through DirecTV Stream, whose regional sports plan costs $90 a month. (Several Spectrum customers have also told me they were able to get Bally Sports Networks as part of Spectrum TV Choice, an a la carte channel package that the company is no longer promoting.)
Ratings for many of these channels are declining as cable cutters are reluctant to pay ever-increasing prices to watch their local teams, and MLB struggles to reach younger fans, many of whom are uninterested in covering a big bundle of to pay cable channels. Letting the Bally Sports app loophole slide until Sinclair’s paywall is ready might not be such a bad idea after all.
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