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Sinclair RSNs Renew Digital Rights Agreements With 12 NHL Teams

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Sinclair's new deal covers 12 NHL teams (Image credit: NHL)

Sinclair Broadcast Group said its Diamond Sports Group unit reached a renewal of its rights deal with the National Hockey League that covers 12 teams whose games are carried by Sinclair’s Bally regional sports networks.

Sinclair, whose plans to launch a direct-to-consumer sports product have been questioned, said the new agreement gives its Bally RSNs permission to offer streaming content, including live games, on an authenticated and direct-to-consumer basis to the local territories of the 12 teams.

The agreement was expanded to allow post-game highlights on Sinclair’s digital news platforms, alternative feeds and the use of the NHL’s puck and player tracking data in game broadcasts.

“We are incredibly proud to continue to partner with the NHL, with which we have had a long and successful relationship, to bring the fast pace and excitement of hockey to local fans across the country,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley. “Our announcement today signifies the importance that both parties place on the ability for sports viewers to consume content whenever and however they choose. The advent of a DTC model will further enhance flexibility for viewers, as well as offer them a highly-personalized and engaging experience, with functionality and interactivity well beyond what is offered today.”

At an investor conference on Nov. 30, Ripley said that rights deals enabling DTC services with the NHL and the National Basketball Association could be announced soon.

Ripley comments follow statements by Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred that indicated that the rights that Sinclair had were not sufficient to launch a DTC product. There were also reports MLB and other leagues might develop their own streaming service.

Going direct to consumer is urgent for Sinclair because it owes about $9 billion it borrowed to buy the former Fox RSNs from the Walt Disney Co. Cord-cutting is 

The 12 teams covered by the new agreement are the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning. ■