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Sinclair Launching Streaming-Only Platform for RSNs

“The service is rolling out in time for 2022 Opening Day as they continue negotiating with the 26 other franchises.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group is still bullish on its sports properties, with CEO Chris Ripley telling analysts that Sinclair’s regional sports network division has “ample liquidity” to operate under.

Ripley also confirmed that Sinclair is rolling out a new streaming launch in the spring to bolster its products further.

Sinclair’s CEO made the comments to analysts during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. As of now, Ripley says the company has direct-to-consumer streaming rights for four MLB franchises. The service is rolling out in time for 2022 Opening Day as they continue negotiating with the 26 other franchises.

Cord-cutting has become more and more popular over the past few years. The percentage of households with a traditional TV package is still at 71% nationwide, but it’s slowly ticked down. Sinclair knows their sports profits are rooted in a stone-age system and is doing its best to pivot.

“We do think we have critical mass in terms of rights to launch a product, and that’s what we intend to do,” Ripley said. If all goes to plan, Sinclair will be showing 14 MLB teams on its streaming platform by the time MLB throws the first pitch on the 2022 season.

As for the other major sports with loaded game schedules, Ripley is confident Sinclair will “get to the finish line with the NHL and NBA,” and have all 30 NBA teams and all 32 NHL franchises streaming on the platform before long.

The move to a streaming-only option marks a major shift for cord-cutting sports fans. Just recently, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban forked over $2.5 million of his money to help Mavericks cord cutters watch games.

“No,” Cuban responded bluntly on Twitter to a media member. “It’s me personally paying $2.5m dollars to buy down the cost of streaming Mavs games so people have an option they can afford. I don’t get any financial benefit whatsoever beyond hopefully having more Mavs fans able to watch the games. I get this is Mavs Twitter, but come on.”

Sinclair appears to be leaping into RSN streaming-only packages, a step Disney has yet to commit on with its ESPN content.

Sports TV News

ESPN Accused Of Data Sharing Without Consent In Class Action Lawsuit

The proposed suit alleges these are violations of the Video Privacy Protection Act.

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According to a potential class action lawsuit, user data from ESPN.com and ESPN+ has been allegedly shared with Meta Platforms without users consent.

Corrado Rizzi of ClassAction.org has proposed the suit, alleging that ESPN “uses a pixel installed on the back end of its website to track when website and app users take certain actions, such as clicking on an ad or viewing video content”. That “pixel” is used by Facebook to capture “a subscriber’s Facebook ID, with which anyone can ‘quickly and easily’ locate, access, and identify a particular Facebook account and a file containing details of a watched video and its corresponding URL.”

Rizzi adds that ESPN.com and ESPN+ subscribers aren’t told their data could be shared. He also shares that while ESPN could create its website to information isn’t immediately shared with Facebook, it benefits financially from utilizing the “pixel” on its website.

The proposed suit alleges these are violations of the Video Privacy Protection Act. The VPAA, according to ClassAction.org, “prohibits ‘video tape service providers’ from knowingly disclosing without consent consumers’ personally identifiable information, including that which identifies someone as having requested or obtained specific video materials”.

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Sports TV News

Pat McAfee Feels Good About His College Football MegaCast Debut

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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The College Football MegaCast featuring Pat McAfee and his daily YouTube show’s cast debuted on ESPN2 over the weekend, and McAfee is looking forward to the next edition.

On his show Monday, McAfee told co-host A.J. Hawk that he felt good about how the show went considering it was uncharted territory to be in.

“We had no idea how successful it would be,” McAfee said. “Like this is the first time we’re being judged in a different fashion. I don’t think we marketed it much, you know, because I don’t think we knew how it was gonna go.”

The alternate feed is being produced for ESPN by Omaha Productions, which is also responsible for the ManningCast which runs alongside the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast.

McAfee said this first show turned out to be a learning experience and that they started off on the right foot.

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said. “We had no idea, it was very much of a roll of the dice. Going into the next one I think we’re gonna try and make it even grander and bigger, and I’m very excited for it.”

As for the style in which they covered the Clemson/N.C. State game, McAfee added that the giveaways and guest interactions added a lot of value.

“I think it’s the right way to watch a game, and to be honest I think it’s keeping us all invested as much and even more,” he said.

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Sports TV News

LA Clippers Sign New Contract with Bally Sports

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Los Angeles Clippers will continue its relationship with Bally Sports, completing a new deal over the weekend to keep Bally as the team’s regional sports network.

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games. Additionally, 11 games will be carried by KTLA, giving the team some additional viewership reach. The remaining eight games will be broadcast on national television.

Brian Sieman will continue on as the play-by-play broadcaster for games, with Jim Jackson and Mike Fratello swapping the analyst chair. Jamie Maggio and Kristina Pink will be reporting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, all signs pointed to the team and the network hashing out a new contract.

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