Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Diamond Sports Group is poised to launch a new streaming service with plenty of NBA games after securing $600 million in financing and a new deal with the league, according to Bloomberg.
At a time when viewing habits are rapidly shifting and fans are moving from traditional cable-based regional sports networks (RSN) to streaming services, Sinclair is making a huge bet on its ability to maintain RSNs while traveling transitioning to streaming. Currently Diamond Sports Group holds cable rights to 16 NBA, 14 MLB and 12 NHL teams. The new service would be based on the local NBA and NHL teams while also adding regional digital rights to the basketball league, according to Bloomberg:
The launch could help Diamond break a slump in viewership and generate earnings to help manage the massive debts that stem from its 2019 sale to Sinclair. The sports network and Sinclair have been in talks with creditors for months over ways to manage its $8.1 billion burden and support the development of the consumer app, which is key to its future as the traditional TV audience erodes.
The debt has no immediate maturities looming, but it has traded at distressed levels while Diamond negotiated to secure streaming rights to various sports amid speculation that Major League Baseball would launch its own competing service. Creditors had previously sought a stake in the new consumer platform if it was created outside of the TV sports subsidiary that backs their investment.
The new streaming service, to be based on Sinclair’s existing streaming app for local teams, is expected to debut in the first half of the year.