The good news for Dish customers is that the months-long carriage dispute between Dish and Sinclair has come to a positive end, with the two parties announcing a new carriage agreement on Monday morning.
The bad news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of sports media: Sinclair’s Bally Sports RSNs are not included in the agreement, which only covers locally owned stations and Tennis Channel.
Those RSNs were dropped by Dish in the summer of 2019, when they still had the Fox Sports branding (and were in the process of being transferred by ESPN to Sinclair). At the time, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen seemed pessimistic about the RSNs ever returning to Dish’s lineup, and that opinion only looks more accurate as time passes. Since dumping the then-Fox RSNs, Dish has also gotten rid of Altitude, the NBC Sports RSNs, and the AT&T SportsNet RSNs.
Prior to the pandemic, Ergen didn’t close the door on Sinclair’s RSNs returning to Dish’s lineup. But the RSN business has only gotten worse in the year and a half since, and Dish’s continued chopping of other, non-Sinclair RSNs has seemingly kicked that door shut.
What this tells me is that the Bally Sports RSNs won’t be back on Dish in the foreseeable future, possibly ever. With the carriage agreement for the local stations expiring, this would have been the ideal time for Sinclair to bundle the RSNs with those stations to get a deal done. Dish stood their ground and got the new deal done without giving in and ponying up for the RSNs. While that news might suck for the sports fan that is *still* holding out hope that a deal for the Bally Sports RSNs would have gotten done, this outcome sure seems like the result Dish was shooting for from the beginning.