On Thursday, Sinclair sent out a release announcing that the two sides had reached a carriage agreement for the yet to be rebranded Fox RSNs now owned by Sinclair. In addition, to those RSNs, the carriage agreement also covers the yet to be launched Marquee Sports Network in Chicago (which will be the new home of the Cubs) and Tennis Channel.
Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), and AT&T have agreed on a multi-year agreement across DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse for continued carriage of Sinclair’s owned local broadcast stations and Tennis Channel, for future carriage of Marquee Sports Network, a regional sports network featuring games of the Chicago Cubs launching in 2020, as well as for the 21 RSN brands Sinclair recently acquired and the YES Network, in which Sinclair is a joint-venture partner.
Sinclair and AT&T reached numerous short-term extensions over the past month, preventing fans from being blacked out of the end of the MLB season and the start of the NHL season. The timing is also fortunate for the NBA, which starts its regular season next week.
As far as I can recall, the only provider not carrying the Fox RSNs is Dish, which is also sparring with Altitude and NBC Sports Chicago and had a week and a half battle with Fox that ended up with a long-term carriage deal. One of the main talking points coming out of Sinclair’s purchase of the RSNs was how it would give them more leverage in negotiations with providers, and it is a reasonable assumption that the leverage Sinclair has in owning both RSNs and local networks helped them avoid a messy, protracted battle with AT&T that would have only hurt customers.