TV Answer Man, I saw your article on baseball’s commissioner, (Rob) Manfred, saying Sinclair didn’t have the rights to sell the Bally regional sports channels directly to viewers. What does Sinclair say about that? I know they planned to do that next season for baseball. — Sean, Evanston, Illinois.
Sean, Sinclair, which owns the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs), has said it plans to launch a streaming app in 2022 that would enable fans to subscribe to their in-market NBA, NHL and MLB games without needing a pay TV subscription.
However, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last month both raised doubts about the plan, saying Sinclair didn’t have the rights to sell the channels directly to consumers via streaming.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley yesterday acknowledged the commissioners were correct, saying his company only had the direct-to-consumer rights to four MLB teams. He didn’t name them, but they are likely the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers. (Bally Sports has the cable/satellite rights to 14 MLB teams.)
However, Ripley expressed confidence that his company could secure the rights to the remaining 10 MLB teams before the start of the 2022 season when Sinclair hopes to launch the app. The same goes for the NBA and NHL teams before the start of their 2022-23 seasons.
“Our launch expectations have not changed,” Ripley said in an analyst call following the release of the company’s third quarter report. “Obviously, if there were a change in our rights versus the status quo, we would make that adjustment, but..it doesn’t look like what’s going to happen here. So, our plans on launch timing…remain the same.”
Ripley wouldn’t rule out launching the direct-to-consumer app even if it didn’t obtain the rights to all 14 teams in the Bally Sports territories.
“That certainly is a possibility,” he said. “But at this point, things are still fluid. So, I wouldn’t want to commit one way or the other to how that might play out.”
Sean, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann