Sinclair Expects DTC to Launch in Baseball Markets in First Half of 2022 | Broadcast + Cable

Sinclair Broadcast Group said it plans to launch its direct-to-consumer product in the five markets where it has rights to broadcast baseball teams in the first half of 2022.

Sinclair said that following rights renewals with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, its regional sports networks Bally Sports have the rights to launch DTC products with a total of 33 teams.

The other DTC products will be launched in the second half of the year when the next basketball and hockey seasons begin.

Also: Sinclair claims cyberattack resulted in $63 million lost ad revenue

Analysts and other observers wonder if Sinclair will be able to launch the DTC deals it has been talking about for more than a year.

“As you can imagine, this is a large project with many internal workflows happening simultaneously to enable us to meet our launch goals,” Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley said during of Sinclair’s earnings call on Wednesday morning. “The potential market for a DTC product is significant as approximately 83 million households reside in the territories for which we currently have DTC rights.”

Also: Sinclair’s Best-Case Scenario for DTC Biz: $2.9 Billion Revenue in 2027

Ripley noted a Morning Consult poll in which 36% of American adults said they would be interested in subscribing to a regional sports network on a standalone streaming service, regardless of the price.

Ripley said the DTC product would offer subscribers more than a means for people without the linear subscriptions needed to access live sporting events.

“It’s the start of a new paradigm for how fans can watch and interact with their home teams,” he said. It will be more personalized and interactive, giving viewers a chance to interact with each other. It will also make NFTs and e-commerce available.

Sinclair launched an NFT store last week.

Sinclair and Bally Sports RSN will also be introducing games, not just on the app but across all platforms.

These games will include everyday fantasy games and, where legal, real money games with substantial prizes.

Coming to Bally Sports are a Bally Baller basketball game and a Bally Breakaway hockey game that will give viewers a chance to win up to $250,000, Ripley said.

The Sinclair Tennis Channel is launching a new predictive game in March around the Indian Wells tournament.

For the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Sinclair and Bally’s are planning a Big Bracket Challenge. Ripley said this game will offer one of the biggest prizes ever – $100 million if someone chooses a perfect parenthesis.

Ripley said Sinclair will be able to pay for the launch of its DTC product in part by ^$35 million that it is raising from its current creditors. Ripley said the bid has begun and the company’s Diamond Sports unit already has enough commitments to guarantee its success. ■

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