Back in 2019, Sinclair Broadcast Group completed a deal with Fox Regional Sports Networks. Sinclair’s sports channels are referred to as Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks (RSN). Bally Sports RSN is the service that several fan bases need to have in order to watch their local MLB, NBA, and NHL teams. Today, it was announced that Sinclair’s sports channels, including the RSNs, are preparing to file for bankruptcy.
Diamond Sports Group LLC, which runs Sinclair’s sports channels, is reportedly $8.6 billion in debt. On top of that, Sinclair owes $55 billion in sports-media rights to MLB, NBA, and NHL teams across the country. Sinclair is reportedly hoping to strike a deal to help them keep the channels operating during bankruptcy.
How might Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks preparing for bankruptcy affect fans who want to watch their local teams?
A big contributing factor that has led to this has been companies refusing to pay the high price Sinclair wants for its Bally Sports RSNs. This is why RSNs are no longer available on DISH networks and streaming services such as YouTube TV, sling, and others.
In an attempt to counteract this, Sinclair previously launched a $20 a month subscription service to get Bally Sports networks without cable TV. Unfortunately this has come with flaws that often include the app crashing. It also has not generated enough revenue and Sinclair is now considering a new streaming service that would give fans the option to pay to watch individual games.
There are a lot of scenarios that could play out in the next few months. Diamond Sports Group LLC has options including ending contracts with teams or halting payments to teams while keeping their contracts in place. It’s possible that some contracts with teams could end while others see cut backs on payments. If contracts end, it is possible that the team could reclaim their media rights.
For now all we can do is wait and see what happens.