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Sinclair’s Bally Sports RSNs Confirm New Deals with the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and Cleveland Cavaliers

Jason Gurwin

During their Q3 2021 Earnings Release, Sinclair confirmed that they had reached new multi-year agreements with the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers, which are currently carried on Bally Sports Detroit. They also reached a new deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which are carried on Bally Sports Great Lakes.

In the release, Sinclair says that their renewal with the Tigers, “includes direct to consumer and other digital rights.” There was no mention of those when it comes to the Red Wings or the Cavs.

Sinclair has suggested that they plan to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service for in-market customers ahead of the 2022 MLB season.

Sinclair holds the rights to a total of 42 teams across Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL — a much smaller number than the 92-team total of the three leagues combined.

At the CAA World Congress last month, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, said that Sinclair does not have enough digital rights from enough clubs in order to have a viable direct-to-consumer product.

“The other set of rights they’ve talked a lot about is gambling rights,” Manfred said, “they don’t have those either. We have been clear with Diamond (Sports Group, the Sinclair subsidiary that technically owns the Bally Sports RSNs) from the very beginning, this was not a late starting issue. We’ve been very clear with them from the beginning that we see both those sets of rights as extraordinarily valuable to baseball, and we’re not just going to throw them in to help Sinclair out.”

Manfred continued, saying, “we believe those digital rights are crucial and we want to own and control the platform on which they’re delivered, we may have partners in that process. But this idea that late in the discussions we somehow demanded an equity stake (from Sinclair), that’s just not accurate.”