Is Sinclair dropping the ball on TV sports?

If you’re into watching the Detroit pro sports teams, an interesting saga is playing out with MLB, NBA, and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

A quick recap …

A few years ago, Sinclair overpaid heavily (borrowing $8 billion!) for a collection of 21 regional sports networks from Disney. These stations included FOX Sports Detroit and primarily televise pro sports teams. After Sinclair could not come to contract terms with outlets like YouTube TV, Hulu, Fubo TV, and DISH Network, all the Sinclair sports networks were pulled from those viewing platforms — leaving many customers without their favorite sports teams. Then, seeking an infusion of cash, Sinclair partnered with Bally Sports to rebrand all the sports networks and introduce a whole new level of sports gambling on TV.

Sinclair then decided to run an end-game by creating its own direct-to-consumer streaming TV service. Originally it was thought this would launch in the summer of 2022 just in time for baseball season. Viewers would need to pay a monthly subscription to view the games. A monthly price has not been announced but was rumored to be between $15-$23 a month.

And here’s where the latest twists get interesting …

1. Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair subsidiary that technically owns the sports networks, is reportedly nearing bankruptcy.

2. The commissioners from MLB and NBA are not fans of the Sinclair plan, and are saying so publicly. Both have said that Sinclair way overpaid for the rights to their own sports leagues!

3.  The MLB commissioner says Sinclair does not have enough digital rights from the pro sports teams to make the streaming product viable.

4. And perhaps as crucial as anything, the MLB commission says Sinclair doesn’t have gambling rights to baseball — MLB owns that.

5. Now the MLB has announced it wants to launch its own streaming video service as early as the 2023 season and would cost $10-$20 a month. In addition, the NBA and NHL are interested in being partners. This would be for in-market games only.

Is there any life left for a Sinclair streaming sports service? Only time will tell.

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