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Fubo renews distribution agreement with Diamond Sports

The coverage map of Sinclair's regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)
The coverage map of Sinclair’s regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)

Fubo will continue to offer regional sports networks from Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group via its streaming service for a few more years.

On Wednesday, the companies issued a joint announcement saying both sides had reached a new multi-year carriage agreement that will keep around two dozen Bally Sports-branded channels on Fubo’s streaming service.

“We are thrilled to renew our agreement with Fubo, a major player in the [streaming TV] space and a leader in live sports streaming, to continue providing high quality local broadcasts to fans,” David Preschalack, the CEO of Diamond Sports, said in a statement. “With the vast majority of our distribution partners in multi-year carriage agreements, Diamond remains focused on completing our reorganization and emerging as a sustainable, profitable business.”

That last line refers to the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case that was filed by Diamond Sports last year, an effort to reorganize billions of dollars in debt owed to various sports leagues, teams, broadcasters, production companies and other creditors.

In January, Diamond Sports filed a reorganization plan that aims to pull the Sinclair business out of bankruptcy, one that is contingent upon a financial investment from Amazon and the restructuring of around 85 percent of Diamond Sports’ outstanding debt.

The feasibility of the bankruptcy plan is partially contingent upon Diamond Sports reaching new carriage agreements with cable, satellite and streaming TV distributors. Already, Diamond Sports has renewed its carriage agreements with major distributors like Cox Cable, Charter’s Spectrum TV and DirecTV.

The business experienced a hiccup while trying to negotiate a new agreement with Comcast for continued carriage on Xfinity TV. The Bally Sports channels were pulled in late April after both sides failed to reach a new agreement or ink a temporary extension of its prior deal. Last week, The Desk reported some details of what both sides wanted through an extension and why one ultimately did not come to fruition.

The deal with Fubo is seen as a major step forward for Diamond Sports, as it demonstrates to creditors and the federal judge overseeing its bankruptcy case that it is more than willing to ink carriage deals and renewals on terms that make financial sense for all sides. Meanwhile, the company continues to promote its own standalone service, called Bally Sports Plus, which delivers live sports and related programming over the Internet for $20 per month or $190 per year.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Comcast pulled Bally Sports channels in late August.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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