Sinclair announced today that it has signed a deal to carry in-market NBA games for 16 teams on its planned Bally Sports standalone app which will be designed to appeal to cord-cutters.
The company has now secured the digital rights to both the NBA and NHL teams in the markets where the Bally Sports channels are available. Although Sinclair has still only signed up four MLB teams to date, the two winter leagues should be enough for the company to fulfill its plan to launch the cord-cutter app this spring.
Under the agreement, Sinclair is also permitted to stream live in-market games for the 16 NBA teams to pay TV subscribers. They will use their cable or satellite user name and password to access the games.
“We are excited about our continued partnership with the NBA which allows us to bring the league’s in-demand and exciting basketball content to local fans across multiple platforms,” said Chris Ripley, Sinclair’s chief executive officer. “Sinclair places the highest importance on connecting sports fans with live games and other sports content. We are looking forward to the launch of our DTC platform in 2022, ushering in a new era of local sports viewing with a more personalized and dynamic viewing experience.”
The 16 NBA teams in the new pact include: The Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs.
Bloomberg News was the first to report that Sinclair was close to an agreement for the NBA’s digital rights. The news service has also reported that Sinclair’s sports business unit, Diamond Sports Group, is close to securing $600 million in loans for the app.
“The new loan for Diamond Sports Group’s venture could be announced along with local NBA streaming rights as soon as (this) week, according to people with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg writes.
It’s still unclear what Sinclair would charge for the standalone app which would enable sports fans to subscribe directly to Bally Sports for its coverage of an in-market team. The New York Post has reported Sinclair is considering a price tag over $20 a month, but Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley has discounted that report.
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— Phillip Swann