Two regional sports networks’ owners have massive financial problems.
In 1732, Thomas Fuller made the observation that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Fuller was referring to the weather. In 2023, February came in like a lion for some Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League owners. The Sinclair-owned Diamond Sports Group, which has 19 regional sports networks around the United States, missed a $140 million debt payment in mid-February and has to make the payment by mid-March or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That is not good news for various teams as there are rights fees that are in danger that are supposed to be headed to Major League Baseball by the start of the 2023 season. NBA and NHL franchises are nearing the end of the regular season and money has been sent to the various teams that have deals with Sinclair. On top of that news, Warner Bros. Discovery wants to get out of the regional sports networks business by the end of March.
Warner Bros. Discovery owns three RSNs, AT&T SportsNet, which is seen in Colorado, Utah, Houston and Pittsburgh. Those regional sports networks have the rights to two NBA teams, the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz, as well as MLB’s Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros, and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Not every regional sports network is losing money, some are profitable and in Sinclair’s case, it appears the company paid far too much money to get the 19 regionals from Disney after Disney purchased them from 21st Century FOX. Disney wanted FOX’s extensive TV and film library and was forced to sell off the networks in exchange for regulatory approval of the deal. Sinclair paid $10.6 billion for the TV properties. Cord cutting is a major problem as fewer people are subscribing to cable or satellite TV.
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