TV Answer Man, I am happy that Dish signed a new agreement for the Sinclair local stations, but what about our sports channels? They are owned by Sinclair, too. Will the new deal include the Bally sports channels, too? Why aren’t you talking about them? — Steve, San Diego.
Steve, Dish and Sinclair yesterday issued a terse statement saying they’ve reached a multi-year agreement to keep Sinclair’s 144 local stations, and the Tennis Channel, in Dish’s lineup. Sling TV, Dish’s multi-channel, live streaming service, will also keep the Tennis Channel. (Sling has never carried the Sinclair local channels.)
The statement did not mention the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs) which are also owned by Sinclair. Dish has not carried the RSNs since July 2019 due to a separate carriage dispute. However, Sinclair said repeatedly that Dish would need to carry them if they wanted to continue carrying the local channels.
But it would appear that Sinclair caved on that demand, according to the reporting of John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.
Ourand writes that Sinclair was concerned that Dish was merely using the RSNs as leverage to drive down the cost of carrying the local channels. Although the RSNs are important to Sinclair’s business plans, the revenue of the 144 local channels are the company’s lifeblood.
So after a series of short-term extensions, Sinclair finally ended the RSN talks and the two companies signed the agreement for the local channels.
“Sinclair and Dish Network have ended negotiations around the Bally Sports RSNs, meaning that the satellite distributor is unlikely to carry the local sports channels for at least the next several years, if ever, according to several sources,” Ourand writes.
Sinclair often professed that pay TV providers would have to carry its sports channels to get its local channels. But it appears that Dish just wrote the playbook on how to get around that.
The TV Answer Man yesterday asked Dish for a comment on the Bally Sports, but we have not received a response as of 6 a.m. ET today.
Steve, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann