MLB Wants To Own RSNs As Streaming Services - Should Other Sports Follow?

Some sports leagues want to become more involved in where their content is running these days -- on broadcast, on new streaming services, or elsewhere.

Major League Baseball is in a league of its own -- if you pardon the phrase.

With 162-game schedules for each of its 30 teams, the role of regional sports networks (RSNs) has become key -- and now financially troubling, especially with the biggest RSN group (Diamond Sports Group). 

The RSN group owned by Sinclair Inc. has declared bankruptcy and is now trying to work its way through the filing in the hopes of starting up again.

But MLB is not so keen on the latter happening. It wants to control and/or own that key business that gives important revenue to all its teams.

Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball, wants to launch a league-owned direct-to-consumer (D2C) streaming service in time for the 2025 professional baseball season. His hope is to sign on at least half of 30 baseball clubs as the basis for that business. 



MLB already allows out-of-market viewers to see MLB games through the streaming service,

It becomes a bit more complicated going forward: Amazon Prime Video is now a small investor in Diamond Sports and its restructuring -- a modest $115 million financial stake.

In 2019, the former Sinclair Broadcast Group bought 21 Fox regional sports networks (when it was owned by Walt Disney at the time) for around $9.6 billion. The valuation of those networks is now much lower.

Amazon's future thinking might be that it could possibly become an owner in the business. But down the line, its current $115 million investment is a rather modest backing.

But those RSNs are regional linear TV cable networks -- not streaming networks. That is another business entirely -- something that Diamond Sports has been attempting to transition into. 

The growing importance of sports is obvious to all sports leagues, and showing no signs of slowing down. ESPN has even entertained efforts to possibly encourage leagues like the NFL to buy an equity stake in its operations, according to reports.

The question is whether other sports leagues like the NBA and NHL -- each with over 82 regular games per season, second only to MLB when it comes to the next-highest number of regular games per season (and thus TV programs) -- will look to do that same thing.

Right now, analysts would say this might not be necessary as sports TV rights continue to skyrocket.

The NFL, for example, has around a decade-long deal with five TV/streaming platforms and networks with a $100 billion price tag. 

Is that enough?

Perhaps leagues need to run up the score a big more. And does that come with risks?

2 comments about "MLB Wants To Own RSNs As Streaming Services - Should Other Sports Follow?".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, February 13, 2024 at 7:31 p.m.

    MLB should just left the blackout rule on MLB.TV for the local fans that want to watch their team and are big on baseball outside there favorite team. MLB doesn't need a new streaming platform when they have MLB.TV for out of market teams as I said before just put the home team gamed on that strwaming service. MLB wants to double dip that is what I'm getting with them.

  2. Ben B from Retired, February 13, 2024 at 7:32 p.m.

    Oops lift not left LOL.

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