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Sinclair-owned Fox Sports RSNs will Become Bally Sports

Jason Gurwin

Bally’s Corporation and Sinclair Broadcast Group have reached a deal which will see Bally Sports become the new name of Fox Sports RSNs. The 10-year deal, which is for a reported $85 million, will also see the companies partner on bringing sports betting to their telecasts.

Two Sinclair-owned networks, YES Network and Marquee Sports Network, will not be rebranded as part of the deal. The exact name of the new networks and whether they will be branded regionally, like Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Ohio, has yet to be determined.

Sinclair-owned 21 sports nets broadcast rights to 42 professional clubs in the NBA, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

The Fox Sports Go app, part of the RSN acquisition, will be revamped to provide direct-to-consumer content and gaming additions. Sinclair intends to launch the new sports app during spring 2021 baseball season.

In calendar year 2018, the RSN portfolio delivered a combined $3.8 billion in revenue across 74 million subscribers. But the pandemic has wreaked havoc with this year’s live sports. Sinclair’s valued dropped $4.23 billion. Shares also plummeted 33% year-over-year. Sinclair Broadcast Group reported a loss of $3.2 billion in Q3, including writing off part of the value of the RSNs.

Sinclair has been having a rough go at when it comes maintaining carriage of its sports RSNs on streamers. Recently, both YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV opted not to carry the channels. Last year, both Dish Network and Sling TV dropped the channels from their service.

Sinclair pointed to them as a cause for a “decline in distribution revenue,” as well as “elevated levels of subscriber erosion” in their Q3 earnings report this morning. The company expects cord-cutting and the loss of YouTube TV and Hulu to lead to a 10% decline in subscriber revenue.

YouTube TV led the way early in October, when it announced it would be dropping the 21 Fox Regional Sports Networks. The streamer reached a short-term extension in March, which saw most Fox Sports RSNs return to the line-up, with the exception of YES Network, Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Prime Ticket.

At the time of the RSN sale, Sinclair’s existing sports business consisted of Marquee Sports Network, a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs, Tennis Channel and Tennis Media Company, live tennis events-lifestyle, Stadium, a digital site focused on college sports and professional highlights, Ring of Honor Wrestling and YES Network, which covers the New York Yankees.

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