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Bally Sports RSNs land FuboTV carriage deal

19 local networks set to be available on subscription streaming platform.

3 January 2023 Josh Sim

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  • RSNs previously dropped by Fubo in 2020
  • Deal comes amid DSG bankruptcy concerns

Sports-focused US streaming platform FuboTV has agreed a carriage deal with Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group (DSG) for the 19 Bally Sports regional streaming networks (RSNs).

The RSNs, acquired by Sinclair as part of Disney’s Fox US$71.3 billion buyout of Fox’s entertainment assets, air live broadcasts featuring local Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) teams via individual rights deals signed with the franchises, as well as select coverage of regional college sports.

The agreement, which also includes Sinclair’s other local TV stations, adds to previous agreements for Fubo to carry the Tennis Channel and the Chicago-based Marquee Sports Network RSN on its IPTV streaming service.

“RSNs are integral to FuboTV’s sports-first content strategy and our mission to superserve local passionate sports fans,” said Henry Ahn, chief business officer, FuboTV.

“We are very pleased to bring Fubo subscribers significant local sports coverage through our new partnership with Bally Sports, the nation’s leader in local sports rights. Sinclair has been a great partner and we’re pleased that we were able to work together well to get a deal done that is meaningful and beneficial for both sides.”

“FuboTV has long been associated with connecting sports fans to their favorite teams and we are thrilled to be expanding our partnership to include the Bally Sports regional sports networks across their platform, providing Fubo’s subscribers with streaming access to their favorite hometown Bally Sports teams,” added Will Bell, senior vice-president, head of distribution and network relations, Sinclair.

SportsPro says…

The carriage agreement marks a U-turn from Fubo, having dropped Sinclair’s RSNs in 2020. At the time, Fubo said that the costs for the RSNs were ‘not consistent with FuboTV’s mission to provide value and keep costs low to customers’. Now, with rival subscription streaming platforms such as YouTube TV having distanced themselves from the Bally Sports RSNs due to increasing rates, reuniting with the DSG networks provides a point of difference that could win over new customers.

Following Google’s deal with the National Football League (NFL) for the Sunday Ticket package, it would not be a surprise if YouTube TV also took another look at the Bally Sports channels, and other RSNs, in order to provide a sports bundle that rivals what DirecTV customers have been offered up to this point.

This is no doubt a positive for Sinclair as bankruptcy concerns continue to swirl around the DSG networks amid a challenging shift in consumer behaviour away from traditional pay-TV packages. Reports emerged last September that MLB, the NBA and the NHL were all interested in a cut-price deal with Sinclair, although interest is said to have cooled recently as DSG moved to create more distance with its parent company.

That said, carriage deals – even with a challenger media operator like Fubo – will only serve to make the RSNs more attractive for prospective buyers.

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