Sports leagues including Major League Baseball, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey could move to buy out the regional sports networks group in Sinclair's Diamond Sports Group business.
Talks involving the three leagues are expected to start soon.
The move seems to be more preventive from a business point of view for the sports leagues.
While professional sports organizations believe -- just like the NFL -- that the future of RSNs is all about streaming and digital media, some executives now believe that Diamond Sports Group's financial issues could jeopardize future revenue coming to their respective teams.
There has been talk of possible bankruptcy proceedings. Sinclair has incurred over $8 billion in debt obligations with its Diamond Sports Group business.
Separately, Major League Baseball has been considering the idea of launching a more comprehensive streaming service for all local baseball games -- possibly starting up in 2023.
Responding to an inquiry by Television News Daily, a Sinclair Broadcast Group spokesperson said: “Diamond has discussed its positions on these matters in their public [earnings] calls which are available to all. Speculation raised by anonymous sources is just that -- speculation.”
The spokesperson adds: “We are executing our business plan and we are excited about the full launch of our direct-to-consumer product on September 26 heading into the start of the NBA/NHL regular seasons. We enjoy the full support from the teams, NBA, and NHL leagues, and look forward to continuing our work with them to transform the RSN model.”
Diamond Sports has been plagued by lack of carriage by virtual pay TV providers -- including Hulu + Live TV; Sling TV and YouTubeTV, as well as traditional pay TV provider Dish Network. Distributors have complained that there is a high affiliate fee cost to airing on those networks.
However, in April of this year Charter Communications cable TV systems agreed to a wide-ranging deal with Sinclair for carriage of its local TV stations, as well as the 19 Bally Sports RSN networks, the Tennis Channel, Marquee Sports Network and the YES Network, in which Sinclair is a joint-venture partner.
In 2019, Sinclair bought 21 Fox Sports RSNs (their former name) from Walt Disney for $10.6 billion -- which at the time gave it exclusive rights to broadcast games of 42 teams from Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL.