Sinclair Reportedly Getting NBA Deal For Direct-To-Consumer App

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 8, 2022
Sinclair's RSNs hold local TV rights to several NBA teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets. (Image credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Sinclair Broadcast Group, which plans to build a streaming, direct-to-consumer app to shore up its struggling regional sports network business, is close to a deal with the National Basketball Association, according to a published report.

Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair RSN unit, is also lining up $600 million in loans to build the direct-to-consumer business, Bloomberg reports. 

Sinclair had no comment on the report.

Sinclair bought the 21 Fox regional sports networks from the Walt Disney Co. in 2019, borrowing $9 billion to finance the transaction. Since the cord-cutting by consumers and cost-cutting by distributors have cut into the RSNs’ subscriber base. 

Also: Sinclair, Bally’s Rebrand Regional Sports Networks

Part of Sinclair’s strategy for its sports business is going direct-to-consumer to reach cord-cutters and younger sports fans, but there have been questions about whether or not Sinclair has the right to launch a streaming business.

Also: It‘s ‘#GameOver’ for Sinclair’s RSN Streaming Plan, Analyst Says

Baseball commissioner Rob Mandred said that the rights Sinclair has were not sufficient to launch a DTC product. There were also reports Major League Baseball and other leagues were considering launching their own streaming service.

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley defended the DTC plan and said deals with the National Hockey League and NBA would be announced soon. 

Sinclair in December announced a renewal of its deal with the National Hockey League, that included direct-to-consumer streaming for 12 teams

According to Bloomberg the new NBA deal will give Diamond regional digital rights in addition to the broadcast rights the RSNs already have.

Bloomberg also said the new streaming app will be financed with a new “super-priority first-lien loan” for a group of Sinclair’s current creditors. ■ 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.