Sinclair Unit Secures Financing Amid Push Into Streaming

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Diamond Sports, the largest owner of the regional sports network, also renewed its digital-rights agreement with the NBA, gaining the ability to stream games.

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As a result of these contracts, Sinclair will be able to offer a subscription streaming service that allows consumers to watch local-market games for 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams without cable or satellite TV packages.

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Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group LLC, a subsidiary that owns the company’s portfolio of 21 sports networks, is working toward building a streaming service. Sports channels were branded as Bally Sports in a 2020 licensing deal with casino operator Bally Corporation

Sinclair Chief Executive Chris Ripley said, “This financing and NBA deal, along with the NHL deal signed back in December, paves the way for the launch of our direct-to-consumer offering with all of our NBA and NHL teams. ” Interview.

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Mr Ripley said Sinclair has Major League Baseball digital-rights deals in some markets.

Regional sports networks, once engines of growth for media companies, have been hit hard by cable cord-cutting because of the high fee owners were able to incorporate cable and satellite companies into traditional pay-TV packages. Pivoting has become a high priority for streaming.

Diamond has a massive debt of more than $8 billion, stemming from Sinclair’s acquisition of Sports Network from Walt Disney. Co.

for $10.6 billion in 2019. Businesshala reported that Sinclair’s creditors were prepared for a possible restructuring by the end of 2020.

Many of those creditors have signed on to provide additional financing. Businesshala reported last week that Sinclair was close to the financing deal.

The company is planning a so-called soft launch of the streaming app in the second quarter, which means it will only be available in certain markets, Mr. Ripley said. He said the company will have a wider rollout in the rest of the markets by the third quarter.

Mr Ripley said all live games featured on the Bali Sports Network will air upon the launch of the streaming service.

He declined to disclose pricing for the streaming service. He added that it would be “in line with some of the other premium sports services on the market.” The NBA’s League Pass hosts out-of-market games for $28.99 per month, or $139 annually.

Sinclair and its peers will have to navigate a difficult path while trying to build a streaming business for their regional sports networks without hurting their traditional TV business.

“All the research points to very little cannibalism,” Mr Ripley said. “There is a growing fandom happening outside the (cable) bundle. Regardless of where the game ends, we need a product for both. ,

Write Lillian Rizzo at [email protected]

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