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Charter Avoids Blackout of Sinclair Locals, Bally Sports, YES Network, & Marquee Sports Network in New Deal with Sinclair

Jason Gurwin

Sinclair Broadcast Group (owners of the Bally Sports regional sports networks) and Charter Communications (owners of Spectrum cable) have reached a new carriage deal, the two sides confirmed on Thursday. The distribution agreement includes carriage of Sinclair-owned local broadcast stations, the Tennis Channel, 19 Bally Sports RSN brands, Marquee Sports Network, and the YES Network, in which Sinclair is a joint venture partner.

The deal was reached after two short-term extensions, the second of which was earlier this month.

The original deal, which included most of Sinclair’s 294 broadcast stations in 89 markets, will keep the channels on the program guides of Charter’s more than 15.8 million pay-TV subscribers.

With the deal, Sinclair was able to get a renewal of their pricey collection of Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks, which will soon also be a direct-to-consumer service. The company acquired about $10 billion of debt to build its Bally Sports empire and couldn’t afford to lose such a big distribution partner.

Sinclair was able to negotiate a new distribution contract with Comcast last year for its Bally Sports networks. On the other hand, Dish dismissed the regional sports channels, taking only Sinclair-owned CBS, FOX, NBC, and ABC affiliates and the Tennis Channel.

The deal should give Sinclair some stability in the chaotic RSN marketplace, which faces rising costs and a loss of subscribers. With recent deals completed with both Comcast and Charter, Sinclair won’t have another major pay-TV contract to renegotiate until the end of 2023, when its DirecTV deal ends.