Discover more from Fieldhouse Files with Scott Agness
Pacers fans upset, unable to watch games to begin season due to Bally Sports' streaming issues
Fans trying to watch on the Bally Sports+ app and online have been unable to do so for the past two games. And they're frustrated, understandably so. The network must do better.
I hear you, Pacers fans.
Your biggest concern isn’t the team right now, it’s about actually being able to watch games on Bally Sports Indiana. Kind of important, I get it. The network has had country-wide outages over the last week, including Thursday night.
I reached out to the network on Tuesday after issues appeared during the Pacers’ loss to the Bulls on Monday, but I never heard back. My guess is they were overwhelmed — in media requests, on the technical side and in the executive offices about how to proceed.
I checked in again Thursday and heard back this time.
They believe the issue was resolved at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday but continue to monitor live game feeds across all devices. The issue, which appears to be with a third-party vendor, notably popped up again late Thursday.
That led to them tweeting this message: “We have been notified there is a streaming issue with the app. The operations team is working to resolve this as quickly as we can to get you back in the game. We will update you when service has been restored.”
For viewers still having trouble streaming, the network wants you to reach out to customer service right here. And more, I’m told they plan to issue credits to subscribers that have been highly affected.
“Agree unacceptable,” Pacers owner Steve Simon wrote in a reply on Twitter concerning Bally Sports’ problems.
So yes, everyone is aware. And just as frustrated. The team renewed its deal with the network before last season.
To be sure, this affects all of us: The team, partners, ad buyers, family members of players, coaches and staff, team employees, and a lot more. Including media by the way.
If fans cannot watch, they typically will not engage. I feel that first-hand in my coverage. One paid subscriber on here chose to unsubscribe on Thursday, incensed that he was unable to stream the past two games.
“Finding another team that I can actually follow and watch,” he wrote.
That’s the issue at its core.
The greater concern, which deserves its own story with more reporting, is how this continues to affect the next wave of Pacers fans. Let’s call them the YouTube generation. They’re following players more than teams. They’re following LeBron James, Steph Curry and Ja Morant — and watching whenever they can on national TV. Otherwise, however, they consume the game with clips on Instagram, TikTok and especially YouTube.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are scheduled to appear on national TV once this season. So if you do not have Bally Sports Indiana or Bally Sports+, that’s one game.
There were a few seasons when you couldn’t watch Pacers games unless you had a traditional cable package since the network is not available on popular streaming platform YouTube TV and others. For the last year, though, there’s at least a legitimate option with Bally Sports+ that costs $19.99 per month or $189.99 for a year.
And for that price, they must deliver.
Another example of how fans consume the game is changing: On Thursday, the league itself uploaded a video — more than two and a half hours — entitled “EVERY SINGLE PLAY From Nikola Jokic's 2022-23 Season.” That’s the two-time NBA MVP right there and fans can binge hours of content in this one video alone. Without a cable bundle or streaming package.
The idea is that it gets fans in the door and engages with them. The most valuable thing, however, is long-term fandom from childhood. Connect with them early, like I did and so many others. But that’s less so the case these days, certainly not with all the options out there.
Here’s what Adam Silver said in February at All-Star Weekend.
Long-term, I’m not that concerned because there are many other ways, platforms, including local over-the-air television, streaming services and other methods to bring those games linear and digitally directly to fans.
In the mid-term, it’s an issue we’re gonna have to work through. We’ve been in extensive discussions with Diamond (Sports Group) about a potential restructuring and I’m fairly optimistic we’ll be able to work something out with them. But, if we can’t, we will make sure we have a system in place for delivering those games to fans.
And you can be sure the rest of the league is watching how things go with the Suns and Jazz. Both teams opted out from working with a regional sports network and instead made their games available locally on an over-the-air free network (along with their own streaming service).
Have any more questions? Let me know.