MLB, NBA, NHL may buy Sinclair-owned regional sports networks

Sinclair’s game was doomed from the start to capitalize on the RSN market, but the TV giant may have been saved from potential bankruptcy by the league it tried to air. In a macro world of Cubs marquee moves, Sinclair — who, not coincidentally, co-owns the network with the Cubs — won a bid to buy 21 former Fox regional sports networks from Disney following its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. . The resulting debt load from the massive $10.6 billion transaction turns Sinclair’s Diamond Sports unsustainable bleeding cash,

Diamond rebranded all via RSN Partnership with gaming giant Bally, increasing the ubiquity of gambling in mainstream sports coverage in a vain attempt to generate revenue. then they Launching a stand-alone app It was supposed to be like Netflix for sports, though the whole thing seemed wrong and there wasn’t nearly enough support from leagues and individual teams.

Would you pay $18/month to see like five teams of three or four sports? Absolutely.

I’ve covered all of this quite extensively over the past three years, primarily through the lens of the Cubs and Marquee as an interested third party. While there is a clear tie-in with Sinclair, the marquee is clearly different from those other RSNs – the same can be said of the Yankees’ Yes ​​Network – and not with them when it came to Ape or Diamond (incorrect) was. management. That said, the Cubs would certainly be interested if there was a way to broaden the marquee’s reach through big play.

This could come as part of a potential purchase of Diamond Sports by the MLB, NBA and NHL. According to A report by Josh Kosman According to the New York Post, a trio of sports leagues are expected to begin talks to negotiate a buyout for a highly discounted price. Cosman writes that Diamond “could receive $3 billion including its debt, which is currently trading at a steep $2 billion discount.” Yes.

The hope is that Sinclair will want to hand over the equity to its creditors — primarily hedge funds that have taken on all of the bad debt — who will then sell off the league. If no such deal goes through, the “technically bankrupt” Diamond could be forced to file for bankruptcy as early as next year. This would not necessarily be the worst thing for Diamond, who would be able to continue broadcasting games without paying rights fees to teams due to the filing’s protection.

Cosman points out that a group that bought RSN out of bankruptcy would be able to cancel existing broadcast rights deals and renegotiate the cheaper ones. Leagues clearly don’t want that, seeing as how these fees account for a large portion of annual revenue. Diamond may try to use that as a bargaining chip, though it’s hard to interest a buyer other than the sports league.

MLB has worked hard this entire time and its lack of involvement is a big part of what really took off Diamond’s app idea. Commissioner Rob Manfred has been very critical of this effort in the past and will likely be eyeing this endgame in some form or the other for some time. Without baseball to help propel the service into the summer months, the streaming service doesn’t really stand a chance.

I don’t really know where this is going, but it certainly seems like it’s in the best interest of all parties involved to buy RSNs in the league. This can result in something like a marquee situation, which, for Cubs fans, is a big difference. If leagues control most broadcast partners, they can open up streaming and eliminate blackout rules that explicitly exist to protect local rights.

We’ll have more on this as details emerge, especially as it affects Cubs and fans in the overly broad “local” market.

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