Sinclair mulls Bally Sports sale to MLB, NBA, NHL - report

Bally Sports’ 21 regional sports networks could be up for grabs for MLB, the NBA and the NHL, according to a Tuesday New York Post report.

Unnamed sources told the outlet Sinclair Broadcast Group is slated to begin talks with the three sports leagues about possibly divesting its subsidiary Diamond Sports, which operates the RSNs.

Diamond, which the sources said is on the verge of bankruptcy, could go for $3 billion including debt.

Rumors of a possible sale emerged a couple of weeks ago, when the Sports Business Journal reported Sinclair hired two investment banks with experience in sports media deals – intended to "improve the sports group's capital structure.”

Sinclair, attempting to mitigate its second quarter losses, excluded Diamond from its financial results.

The Post said Sinclair is likely to give Diamond’s equity to creditors who would then sell off most of the operation to MLB, the NBA and NHL, while Diamond would retain a minority stake in Bally Sports.

Should Diamond fall into bankruptcy, it will still be able to broadcast RSN games, sources told the Post, but it won’t have to pay teams their rights fees. The sources added some teams get up to 30% of their revenue from RSN rights.

Sinclair in 2019 bought the 21 RSNs – then known as Fox Sports – from Disney for $10.6 billion.

Since that acquisition, Sinclair has prepped for the launch of a direct-to-consumer streaming service – dubbed Bally Sports+. The service debuted in June in five regions, and it’s expected to fully launch next week on September 26.

Speaking on Diamond’s Q2 earnings call, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said the company is “very pleased with how the soft launch has gone so far,” with early subscription volumes “better than we expected.”

Bally Sports+ costs around $20 monthly or $190 per year, featuring regional NBA and NHL programming. Select markets are offering live MLB games on the app.

The broadcaster in the past year also faced uncertainty with Bally Sports carriage rights. Sinclair’s deal with Charter Communications was set to expire on February 28. The companies extended the deal for one month before forming a new distribution agreement in April.

Prior to that, Sinclair renewed a carriage deal with Dish Network in November 2021, but those broadcast rights notably excluded Bally Sports.