Sinclair and Charter Communications Sign New Carriage Deal

(Image credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sinclair Broadcast Group said it signed a new distribution deal with Charter Communications that includes carriage of its regional sports networks.

In addition to 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, the deal covers Marquee Sports Network in Chicago and the YES Network in New York. Sinclair owns a piece of Marquee and YES.

Sinclair’s broadcast stations and the Tennis Channel are also going to get continued carriage as part of the agreement.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sinclair’s agreement with Charter Communications expired at the end of the month, but the channels and stations have remained available to cable subscribers under short term extensions.

The agreement was crucial to Sinclair because buying the RSNs from Disney left it carrying about $9 billion in debt. It would have been difficult to pay that money back without carriage fees from Charter, a major carrier.

Some distributors, including Dish Network and most of the streaming MVPDs have balked at carrying regional sports networks, because they generally have high carriage fees and require all subscribers, whether they are sports fans or not, to pay for them, raising the cost of service at a time when many consumers are cutting the cord to save money. 

Sinclair is planning to launch direct-to-consumer streaming services in some markets where it has RSNs. It was unclear how that plan is dealt with in the agreement with Charter. ■

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.