Sinclair nets NHL deals for upcoming streaming service

Sinclair Broadcast Group today scored streaming rights with a dozen NHL teams in a substantial step forward for the direct-to-consumer streaming sports service it hopes to launch next year.

Diamond Sports Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sinclair, said the new deal means its Bally Sports regional networks are now permitted to offer streaming content, including live games, on an authenticated and direct-to-consumer basis to the local territories of 12 NHL teams. Teams included in the agreement are the 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.

“Our announcement today signifies the importance that both parties place on the ability for sports viewers to consume content whenever and however they choose. The advent of a DTC model will further enhance flexibility for viewers, as well as offer them a highly-personalized and engaging experience, with functionality and interactivity well beyond what is offered today,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley in a statement.

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S&P Global Market’s Mike Reynolds said Ripley had been recently teasing DTC agreements with both the NBA and NHL to go along with the four MLB teams it has already set streaming deals with. Sinclair hasn’t announced which MLB teams will be part of its streaming service but Reynolds pointed out that since the company acquired the Bally Sports RSNs in 2019, it has renewed deals with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins and Detroit Tigers.

In an 8K filing with the SEC this summer, Sinclair predicted its DTC service could eventually attract approximately 4.4 million subscribers and generate around $2 billion in annual revenue.

The company projects about 1.7 million subscribers to the service would be from the cord-cutter/cord-never category and another approximately 1.4 million would be non-RSN subscribers from its distributor partners. About 1.3 million subscribers would come from current subscribers to its Bally Sports networks.

Sinclair said that breakdown suggests that there will be “minimal cannibalization to existing business.” The company expects just over $1 billion in subscription revenues with another $1 billion coming in from advertising and features including sports betting.