CLEVELAND, Ohio — Fans of the Cleveland Guardians and Cleveland Cavaliers know watching live games on TV has been a challenge the last couple of years. Bally Sports Ohio and Bally Sports Great Lakes have disappeared from live TV providers such as YouTube TV, Hulu, FuboTV, Sling and Dish due to ongoing disputes with the networks’ owner, Sinclair Broadcast Group.
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But there’s hope on multiple fronts. The launch of Bally Sports+ on September 26 will make it easier for cord-cutting Cavs fans to watch Donovan Mitchell & Co. this season by streaming all of the team’s local broadcasts for $20 a month. And a New York Post report about the potential sale of the Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs) could provide relief down the road for Guardians fans.
According to the newspaper, the MLB, NBA and NHL are expected to Engage soon in talks with Diamond Sports, the Sinclair subsidiary that operates the Bally Sports properties, about buying the 21 regional sports networks that collectively own the local broadcast rights to 42 teams across the three leagues.
“A prospective deal is Looming as Diamond — owned by Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group — has been hemorrhaging cash and could be headed for a possible Bankruptcy filing if it doesn’t find a white knight in the coming months, the sources claimed,” Reporter Josh Kosman wrote in his story, Filed Tuesday.
Indeed, Sports Business Journal reported last month that Diamond retained the services of two investment banks, LionTree and Moelis, in a move that was seen as a sign that the networks were being prepared for a sale. Citing Anonymous insiders, the New York Post’s story says the sale of the RSNs could fetch $3 billion, which is much lower than the $10 billion it paid Disney for them in 2019.
But that possible bankruptcy could hasten a deal. If Diamond was able to secure protection from creditors, it would still be able to broadcast games but wouldn’t have to pay the teams their rights fees for them, sources told the NY Post. Also, in that scenario, a potential buyer could snatch up the RSNs and tear up existing broadcast rights deals, leaving teams in a weaker position.
Buying the networks would give the MLB, NBA and NHL more control over their prized commodities — local broadcast rights — and the ability to potentially launch their own streaming services.
But “speculation raised by Anonymous sources is just that, speculation,” a spokesperson for Sinclair told the NY Post.