Sinclair’s Sports Channels Prepare Bankruptcy, Putting Team Payments At Risk

America’s largest owner of local sports channels is heading toward a complex $8.6 billion debt restructuring in bankruptcy court as it stakes its future on a new direct-to-consumer streaming service. After leveraging up to buy regional sports networks from Walt Disney Co. in 2019, Diamond Sports Group LLC is suffering from a decline in cable TV subscribers, spurring negotiations with creditors and major sports leagues about its viability as a going concern. The outcome will have serious implications for the $55 billion world of sports media rights

NBC Sports Regional Networks Team Up With Ross Video

Ross Video said today that NBC Sports Regional Networks, part of NBCUniversal Local, selected its XPression real-time motion graphics system and Piero sports graphics analysis platform to enhance the networks’ operations and production. The combination of Ross Video products, the company says, “enables the five regional sports networks (RSNs) — which serve four major U.S. […]

Sinclair’s Bally Sports Networks Gain Carriage On FuboTV

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s struggling Bally Sports Networks got a boost with a carriage deal with FuboTV. Sports oriented streaming TV service FuboTV will carry the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, giving fans without a traditional cable subscription another way to access those networks and watch their local teams’ games.

David Preschlack Named CEO At Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group

The former NBC Sports exec will oversee the troubled Bally Sports regional sports networks.

New CEO To Run Diamond Sports As Sinclair Gets Sent To The Bench

Struggling regional sports network operator Diamond Sports Group is set to name a CEO Monday, making it more independent from Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has been running the chain of Bally Sports Networks. Sinclair bought the RSNs from The Walt Disney Co., taking on about $9 billion in debit. Since the acquisition, the RSN have lost subscribers and the cost of sports rights has climbed, putting Sinclair in a financial bind. Earlier this year, Sinclair refinanced Diamond’s debt and separated its financials from Diamond’s.

EARNINGS CALL

Sinclair’s Diamond RCNs Hit By Subscriber Churn

Third quarter media revenues were down 10% to $684 million. Distribution revenues dropped 11% to $565 million and advertising revenues declined 5% to $112 million. However, Sinclair COO Robert Weisbord had some good news: “On a per-game basis, ad revenues were up by a mid-teens percent, driven by healthy demand in many categories — with the largest gains in service, retail, food and entertainment,” he reported. “Looking forward, we see some positive signs for advertising demand.”

Fubo TV Deal With Altitude Sports Makes Denver One Of The Nation’s Most Interesting RSN Regions

Local fans now have myriad ways to see the Nuggets and Avalanche, and none of them involve Comcast or Dish.

 

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley Says RSN Streaming Rights Deals Could Come ‘Shortly’

Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley said Tuesday that additional streaming rights deals for its upcoming direct-to-consumer RSN service could be coming soon, adding that he believes the company has enough content in hand now to launch the product successfully. Ripley said Sinclair is in “active and ongoing negotiations,” with the NHL and the NBA for streaming rights, and that although it has rights from only four MLB teams, that could change.

COMMENTARY BY ALAN WOLK

Sinclair’s Streaming RSNs And Warner’s CNN Plus May Be Pay TV’s Biggest Disruptors

Analyst Alan Wolk: While the entertainment offerings on streaming today easily surpass the offerings on cable in terms of both quality and quantity, the same cannot be said for news and sports.

New Sinclair RSN Ops Center Leverages ST 2110 IP Infrastructure, Cloud

Sinclair Broadcast Group has expanded its sports production and delivery capabilities with the launch of a new 25,000-square-foot, SMPTE ST 2110 media operations center here dedicated to its regional sports networks (RSNs). The operations center, which leverages cloud-hosted disaster recovery channels, also serves as a large-scale ST 2110 production facility for its Tennis Channel. Sinclair’s Tennis Channel features a cloud-based environment for pop-up live special events as well.

Sinclair Stock Soars On RSN Speculation

Sinclair Broadcast Group shares were up more than 10% in early trading Monday after reports that its Chicago-area regional sports network was close to a carriage deal with Comcast. Comcast, the largest cable operator in the Chicago region had been slow to reach a carriage agreement with Sinclair’s Marquee Sports Network, the RSN it jointly owns with the Chicago Cubs. But reports over the weekend that the two may be close to a deal helped goose the stock.

Sinclair Could Launch RSN Direct-To-Consumer Service

 

A week after Charlie Ergen lamented that Sinclair didn’t own the Fox RSNs when their contract expired with Dish, Sinclair offered further optimism. “We continue to have discussions with Dish for the carriage of the RSNs and remain confident that our two companies will eventually reach a mutually acceptable carriage agreement,” Sinclair President-CEO Chris Ripley said on the company’s 4Q earnings call.

YouTube TV Strikes Out On Sinclair’s RSNs

Baseball fans who also subscribe to YouTube TV got some bad news today when YouTube TV announced it will drop all Sinclair-owned Fox regional sports networks on Feb. 29. The announcement means fans in several markets — including New York, where the Yankees’ YES Network will be going away — will not be able to catch their favorite teams on YouTube TV. YouTube TV tweeted it was “unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair” to continue carrying Fox’s RSNs.

Blacked Out RSN Altitude Sues Comcast

Denver-area regional sports network Altitude, blacked out by Comcast since August, sued the cable operator charging Comcast with violating antitrust laws and trying to put Altitude out of business.

Sinclair Closes $10.6B Disney RSN Purchase

Byron Allen is an equity and content partner in the RSN holding company that includes exclusive local rights to 42 professional teams consisting of 14 Major League Baseball teams, 16 National Basketball Association teams, and 12 National Hockey League  teams.

Fox-Branded RSNs Go Dark On Dish

The 21 popular local sports channels were pulled from the satellite carrier and Sling TV after Dish and Disney were unable to come to terms on carriage fees. Disney is in the process of selling the RSNs to Sinclair, which is said not to have been involved in the negotiations. No word on how the impasse might impact Sinclair’s ability to finance its $9.6B acquisition of the channels.

Charter Inks Sinclair Deal That Includes Fox RSNs

According to a recent research note, Charter has struck a retrans deal for renewal of Sinclair TV stations that includes the Fox RSNs. Charter declined to comment, but a recent Wolfe Research note declared, “CHTR renewing the Fox RSNs for a ‘slight increase’ is a nice little positive.”

Sinclair RSN Deal Proving A Tough Sell

Sinclair Broadcast Group’s $9.6 billion deal to acquire 21 regional sports channels may be beloved by stockholders — but lenders are less enthused. Since winning the auction to acquire the 21 regional sports networks from Disney, Sinclair has had a tough time finding a lender to replace a $1.025 billion bridge loan it secured from JPMorgan, sources with direct knowledge of the situation say.

MLB Ends Bid To Buy Disney’s RSNs

Major League Baseball won’t get a shot at controlling the nation’s regional sports TV networks, after all. MLB has resigned itself to becoming a minority investor — as Disney wraps up its auction of the 21 RSNs — giving up on a dream to become the operator of a nationwide chain of sports-focused TV channels.

Fox RSN Sale Grows More Confusing

The sale of the nearly two dozen of the Fox regional sports networksOpens a New Window. hampered by lowball bids, confusion over the ownership of digital rights and overly optimistic expectations by bankers on the final sales price may now be further delayed as billionaire businessman Arturo “Arte” Moreno, the owner of the Los Angeles Angels, has indicated that he would like to purchase as many as four of the RSNs.