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Regional Sports Networks Newsbeat

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fanatics reportedly could enter the sports media world, with many believing Sinclair’s RSN business could go bust

Per SBJ, Fanatics, the merchandising company that has exclusive deals with numerous leagues and has slipped its way into the trading card business, could become a player in the sports media landscape.

As usual, talks are preliminary, and Fanatics is just one company that has been involved.

One of the most intriguing ideas that has been discussed recently involves Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, an executive who has not been known for sports media deals but who has had several meetings in recent months to see if there’s a path for his company to jump into the flagging RSN business.

Rubin’s meetings with league, team, distribution and network executives have been dormant for several weeks and nothing is imminent, as sources say Fanatics is concentrating on expanding other parts of its business before tackling media.

Several sources said that these talks with Rubin could pick back up again next year. Plus, leagues, teams and media companies are considering several options beyond Fanatics.

Also of note in this article: various executive think that Diamond Sports, the Sinclair subsidiary that runs the Bally Sports RSNs, is on the road to bankruptcy.

If Fanatics were to make a move, it would need to get control of the local rights, which may be the easiest step. Sources say NBCUniversal and AT&T have been trying to find buyers for their RSNs. And top executives from leagues and media companies share a common belief that the Sinclair subsidiary Diamond Sports Group, which owns 21 Bally Sports-branded RSNs, could be headed into bankruptcy.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 01:46 PM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: regional sports networks

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Media Orgs & Sports Business Execs Turn To Streaming In the Face of Floundering RSNs

What was once the most profitable collection of networks around, regional sports networks (RSNs) are floundering — and are turning to streaming to help stop the fall.

A new report by the Sports Business Journal revealed that over a dozen high-ranking sports business executives are concerned with the future of RSNs and are working with leagues, teams, and cable distributors to help find a new way to broadcast games. “The house is on fire here,” one network executive said to SBJ, referring to the RSN business. But why? It’s twofold — growing streaming services and a lack of pay-TV subscriptions.

Regional sports networks make their money from cable operators who shell out big bucks to keep sports networks happy, as live sports is one of the last bastions of consistently strong TV ratings, which in turn makes it prime time for advertisers looking to buy up ad time. RSNs almost always deal with some kind of blackout or cable standoff as they look to grab more money from cable operators, who in turn charge their customers more to make up for the increased revenue or have to include the RSNs in a separate, costlier subscription tier. Usually, these premium tiers have fewer subscribers than others due to cost, which doesn’t help the RSNs either.

Then there’s Sinclair, the broadcast company that owns the largest assortment of RSNs that are now branded with the Bally Sports name. We’ve discussed Sinclair’s dealings with various cable and streaming TV providers — and how they seem to be ending deals with each and every one of their former broadcast partners. Sinclair has revealed their endgame, though, as they plan to go direct-to-consumer in the form of a sports streaming service that will supposedly launch sometime next year.

The Athletic also has a really great article out today about blackout restrictions, the problems with a direct-to-consumer model, and the future of streaming and RSNs.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 31, 2021 at 10:30 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: regional sports networks, streaming, television

Friday, June 11, 2021

Sinclair raising $250M for new sports streaming service, sources say

Sinclair Broadcast Group is quietly raising money for a new service that would stream games by the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dallas Mavericks and scores of other popular sports teams to fans over the Internet, The Post has learned.

The publicly traded media company — which owns exclusive rights to broadcast games for dozens of Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League teams — is working with investment bank LionTree to raise more than $250 million for the venture, according to two sources with knowledge of the plans.

Sinclair has been telling hedge funds and other potential investors that it aims to charge $23 a month to fans who want to stream games in markets where it owns sports broadcasting rights, sources said.

Fans who live outside of Sinclair’s 21 territories, where it owns broadcasting rights tied to 42 teams, would likely be out of luck.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 11, 2021 at 11:14 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: regional sports networks, sinclair, yes network

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Sinclair Owes $1.82 Billion in RSN Fees Amid Tough Ad Market

If getting dumped by the virtual MVPDs has taken a bite out of Bally Sports’ reach, the ongoing Dish stalemate is costlier still. The satellite TV service closed out 2020 with 8.82 million video subscribers, and its Sling TV added another 2.47 million households to the pile. On Opening Day of the 2021 MLB season, some 11.3 million U.S. homes were unable to access the Sinclair RSNs. (Not that Bally Sports is alone in feeling the chill from Dish, as the operator has also failed to reach a carriage deal with the NBC Sports RSNs and MASN, the home network of the Orioles and Nationals.)

Even some elite, team-owned RSNs are now struggling to keep the faith. “I used to say that the RSN model is good for five to 10 years, but I have to modify that,” said one sports net programming chief. “COVID will have a more lasting impact on sports than perhaps we’d anticipated. The RSNs are not in a great spot right now—along with the battle with distributors, the advertisers are not clamoring back.”

The prognosis is grim. “The impact of the last 14 months has been profound, but let’s face it, the next six to 12 months may be too much to come back from.” When asked if there’s any lifeline to grasp, the network exec said, “Gambling can’t happen soon enough.”

Obviously, the fact that a major casino group forked over $85 million for the right to rebrand the Sinclair RSNs in its own image suggests the emerging sports-betting market may not be a long shot. But will the opportunity be sufficiently lucrative to offset the loss of so much affiliate revenue?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 28, 2021 at 04:36 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: regional sports networks, sinclair, television

 

 

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