“We asked ourselves sort of a simple question: Ten years from now, would the local MLB, NBA and NHL teams’ rights be important to people? And the answer to that was pretty easy – they will be. We see the digital distributors, the streamers, being the next frontier for distribution of these games. … We look to expand our distribution to as many platforms as possible.”
Ripley expects an increase in viewership as a result of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for individual states to legalize sports gambling if they choose.
“Research reflects that legalized sports betting is expected to increase engagement and viewing and therefore revenue opportunities,” he said. “… We see upside from increased viewership, advertising and in-game betting integrated directly into the media.”
The average time remaining on the MLB, NBA and NHL broadcast rights contracts inherited in the deal is 11 years. The Braves’ contact runs until 2027.
Sinclair, based near Baltimore, owns or operates 191 local TV stations across the country.
Disney had been seeking a buyer for the Fox regional sports networks since acquiring them as part of a $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets earlier this year. Disney agreed to sell off the RSNs as a condition of U.S. Justice Department approval of the larger deal because regulators believed Disney, which owns ESPN, would have too much control over sports television if it kept the regional channels.