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Sinclair Reaches Deal for Direct-To-Consumer Rights to 12 NHL Teams For Bally Sports App

Jason Gurwin

Sinclair has reached a multi-year deal with the NHL, which gives them rights to offer an in-market direct-to-consumer streaming service for 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.

As part of the deal, it also extended their ability to offer TV Everywhere access to Bally Sports RSNs for in-market streaming to cable and satellite customers. The agreement offers post-game highlights that can be shared on Sinclair digital platforms like Bally Sports App, as well as access to alternative feeds and player tracking data.

In August, the company said they are on track to launch a DTC product for Bally Sports as soon as the start of next MLB season. On pricing though, Ripley said on the call, “everything is still subject to change and final pricing plans and packaging is still something that is yet to be finalized.”

There is question, despite have access to some in-market streaming rights, whether they could actually launch a direct-to-consumer offering. It is expected that there will be significant pushback from the cable and satellite distributors who pay hefty fees to carry Bally Sports RSNs.

The company had been circulating a $23 a month price point for the Bally Sports DTC service as part of Sinclair’s fundraising efforts. That number was soundly denied by Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley in an interview with the Baltimore Business Journal.

Ripley believes that the company will be able to acquire net new direct-to-consumer subscribers, who no longer subscribe to a cable bundle, rather than cannibalize it. He believes that the wholesale price will continue to be a good value for cable, satellite, and Live TV Streaming distributors.

While speaking at the Bank of America Leveraged Finance Virtual Conference this morning, Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Chris Ripley said his company could have additional streaming rights coming soon and believes they have enough content to successfully launch their own DTC streaming app. Ripley also said Sinclair is in “active and ongoing negotiations,” with the NHL and the NBA for streaming rights, and that although it only has rights from four major league baseball teams, that could change soon. “I do think there will be some news around some of these renewal negotiations shortly,” Ripley said regarding MLB rights.

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