Sinclair and Charter Back on the Clock with Extension for 'Biggest Sports Deal of 2022' Set to Expire
Sinclair is trying to negotiate a tricky program licensing deal with the nation's No. 2 pay TV carrier as it simultaneously seeks to take its 19 regional sports networks over the top
Representatives for Charter Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group told Next TV there's nothing new to report regarding program licensing renewal negotiations between the two companies, as a one-month extension carved nearly 30 days ago approaches expiration.
It was recently called "the biggest sports deal of 2022" by the Sports Business Journal, with Sinclair walking a bit of a tightrope.
Leveraged at just under $10 billion while building its empire of 19 Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks, it's imperative that Sinclair carve out a robust carriage deal with the No. 2 cable operator in the U.S. for its RSNs, while also gaining retrans fee increases for its broadcast stations.
However, Sinclair is also trying to take the Bally Sports RSNs, managed under subsidiary Diamond Sports, over the top in a direct-to-consumer service that Sinclair says will launch this summer. Equity analysts predict it will be priced at around $23 a month.
The Charter talks come after Dish Network last fall renewed rentrans agreements for Sinclair stations but demurred on carriage of the Bally Sports RSNs. Bally Sports networks have also recently gone dark on virtual pay TV services YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV.
"Imagine being on the Charter management team and hearing that DSG is going over the top on an a-la-carte basis," wrote LightShed Partners' principal Rich Greenfield in January. "Charter has to pay for every single Charter subscriber in a DSG RSN market, despite only a small fraction watching or even caring about their local RSN. Meanwhile Sinclair’s DSG can offer a digital version of the RSN service directly to ONLY those that want it."
Meanwhile, the quest to launch the Bally Sports RSNs DTC service continues.
On Wednesday, Rob Weisbord, Sinclair COO and president of broadcast, said he's "cautiously optimistic" the roster of Major League Baseball teams participating in the Bally Sports DTC service will soon grow, now that pro baseball's recent labor impasses has ended.
“I believe that there is a path for a deal to get additional teams. But it takes a lot of conversations to get there and we’re having ongoing dialogue," Weisbord said during a virtual event conducted by the Digital Entertainment Group and covered by Deadline.
Last week, MLB's Kansas City Royals confirmed their allegiance to the new Bally service, adding to a list of MLB teams that already included the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Bally Sports channels carry 42 major pro sports teams in all, which includes recent DTC deals to include 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL franchises. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has been cool to the idea of working with Sinclair and is said to want the MLB to go it alone on a DTC plan. ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!