Milwaukee Brewers games on Bally Sports Plus app available Thursday

Finally, fans who want to watch Milwaukee Brewers games without a cable or satellite subscription will have that opportunity.

On Thursday, Sinclair Broadcasting will launch Bally Sports+, a direct-to-consumer offer that allows purchase of the Bally Sports Wisconsin app without existing cable or satellite service. For $19.99 per month or $189.99 for an annual subscription, users can purchase the app and watch live Brewers games, as well as Bucks games possibly in the fall.

Bally Sports Wisconsin broadcasts nearly every Brewers game and a sizable slate of Bucks games during the year, although postseason games are shown elsewhere. Bally Sports Wisconsin was not offered on most cord-cutting services like YouTubeTV or Hulu+LiveTV for almost two years.

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The change is part of a soft launch, meaning it will only work in five “markets”, specifically those watching the Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals and the Tampa Bay Rays. Anyone inside the State of Wisconsin must be in Brewers territory and have access to the service.

“We want to learn from this experience before we go to the larger market and the rest of the country,” said Mike Dimond, general manager of Bally Sports North and Bally Sports Wisconsin. “We want the perspective of consumer feedback…because we want to make the best product available for the long term.”

The product will be the same app that already exists for viewers who use a cable/satellite account to access Bally Sports Wisconsin; it’s just a new front door. In addition to live games, users can watch pre-game and post-game content, as well as extras like Minnesota Wild games.

The markets were selected because Sinclair holds the direct-to-consumer rights for these five markets. Dimond pointed out that Sinclair is subject to the same restrictions as all Major League Baseball broadcasts, and only those inside MLB-defined Brewers territory will have a chance to view Brewers games.

“Your access point should be within the territory, based on your ZIP code,” Dimond said. “With the current app you will have couch rights which will allow you to travel outside of this (market) for 30 days but after that the device has to come back into the market as it is currently.”

Dimond said will go live Thursday morning, in time for users to sign up and watch the Brewers’ matchday game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“This is an introductory launch, there will be no large-scale marketing effort here,” Dimond said. “We’ll get there when we do a broader launch in the fall with the start of the NBA and NHL seasons. You’ll see full press with marketing. As a Wisconsin fan, you’ll get the Brewers and Bucks as part of that. Everything you see on the linear channel, you will also be able to access directly on the consumer.”

He said he was aware that some users had difficulty working with the current application, but he believed that many issues on his organization’s side had been resolved.

“We have full customer service here; we’ve brought in a third party to help us, and that’s what they do for a living, monitoring social media and working with agents on site to help the consumer solving problems or something like that,” Dimond said.

“It’s version 1.0; we want to make sure the functionality is there and the user experience is where it needs to be. We’ll build from there.”

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

Lance B. Holton