Sinclair Broadcast Group says it has signed a multi-year renewal of its carriage pact with the National Hockey League. The new agreement includes in-market and direct-to-consumer streaming rights of live games of 12 teams on Bally Sports.
The 12 NHL teams are: 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.
The new deal means that Sinclair can offer live streams of the NHL games via a Bally Sports standalone app that can be sold directly to consumers so they can watch their in-market team without subscribing to cable or satellite. Sinclair has said it plans to launch the app in the spring of 2022.
In addition, Sinclair will be able offer in-market streams of live NHL games to cable and satellite subscribers who have Bally Sports in their programming packages. The company’s press release did not say when that feature will be available.
Sinclair said it has also obtained the rights to offer more post-game highlights, alternative feeds of live games, and the NHL’s Puck and Player tracking data in game broadcasts.
With the NHL streaming rights secured, Sinclair must now obtain permission from the MLB and NBA.
However, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in October both raised doubts about Sinclair’s app plans, saying the company didn’t have the rights to sell their teams’ games directly to consumers via streaming.
Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley later acknowledged the commissioners were correct, revealing 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.)
But 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. He said the same was true for the NBA and NHL teams before the start of their 2022-23 seasons
And now Sinclair has the NHL.
“Our launch expectations have not changed,” Ripley said in an analyst call in early November 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.”
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— Phillip Swann