Sinclair, Charter (Spectrum) reportedly have truce; BSM to be carried though at least end of month | Subscriber only

There have been a couple recent developments regarding how Sinclair Broadcasting, parent company of Cardinals and Blues telecaster Bally Sports Midwest, plans to get those productions to its customers.

First, its contract with Charter Communications to carry its regional sports networks expired Monday, but the companies reportedly agreed to a one-month extension. That keeps BSM on Charter, which markets its services as “Spectrum,” at least until the end of March.

And that is significant locally as well as nationally, as Charter not only is the largest pay-TV content provider by far in St. Louis, it is No. 2 nationally (behind Xfinity) and has 21 regional sports networks.

Sinclair has had similar disputes with other programming disseminators over how much it charges them, leading several to not carry the company’s channels. On that list are list are Dish Network, YouTube TV, Hulu Live, FuboTV and Sling TV. But given Charter’s size, and the fact some sports fans who subscribed to one of those competitors undoubtedly have switched to Charter, it would behoove both parties to reach a long-term deal.

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Sinclair would figure to be hurt more than Spectrum, given what it is paying for rights fees — a reported $1.82 billion last year. It has local deals with MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS teams.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of the Bally Sports RSNs depend on Charter agreeing to carry them on their Spectrum TV systems,” wrote John Ourand, who covers the economic side of sports media for Sports Business Journal, in the story he had about the extension.

If BSM goes dark on Charter on April 1, the impact to Cardinals fans would be uncertain. That’s because it’s not know when (if) the 2022 season will start because of the ongoing labor dispute that already has led to the cancellation of the first week of games that were scheduled to begin March 31.

Immediately impacted would be Charter customers who watch Blues telecasts. The team’s first eight contests in April are to be shown on BSM before their game on April 16, at home against Minnesota, airs on ABC (KDNL, Channel 30).

Again, as with the MLB labor mess, it’s fans who get dumped on — hardly a good way to do business.

On another Sinclair front, CEO Chris Ripley said on a recent conference call with financial analysts that the company’s long-discussed plan to offer some of its live-event coverage directly to consumers is expected to roll out in the first part of the baseball season ( if there is one), but with only five teams participating — not the Cardinals as of now.. Sinclair must make deals with teams individually.

This option would allow customers to direct purchase streaming of games, bypassing the middlemen programming providers who require a subscription to their service in order to be able to also watch via streaming. The price of this direct-to-consumer option has not been announced, tough it is expected to be at least $20 monthly

KTRS KEEPS MU: KTRS (550 AM) will remain the St. Louis affiliate on Mizzou’s football and basketball radio network for three more seasons under a contract extension, station general manager Tim Dorsey said.


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