FanDuel Deal For Bally Sports Channels Hinges On Diamond Bankruptcy

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FanDuel is nearing a deal to take over 18 regional Bally Sports TV channels owned by Diamond Sports Group.

The deal, first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by LSR, would see FanDuel acquire each network’s naming rights and access to Diamond’s regional sports rights, as well as an equity stake in the company.

Any potential deal would be contingent on Diamond first resolving its bankruptcy case, an industry source told LSR.

TV deal hinges on bankruptcy case

The Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary filed for bankruptcy last year amid the rising cost of broadcast rights, coupled with a declining number of cable subscribers. As part of a settlement with Sinclair in January, Bally’s agreed to not renew their naming rights at the end of the year.

“Any company that wants to get involved with Diamond and the network rights would want to make sure it doesn’t become responsible for their debts,” an industry source with knowledge of the situation told LSR.

Both Diamond and FanDuel declined to comment.

Diamond’s bankruptcy plan, backed by Amazon, has a confirmation hearing scheduled for July 29 and July 30.

Major media play for FanDuel

It would be a big media move for FanDuel, which launched the first linear US sports betting TV network in 2022, vaulting it into the daily sports television business.

According to an industry source, a deal with Diamond would not impact FanDuelTV programming but would provide ample cross-content opportunity between networks.

The source suggested that Diamond’s current situation could allow a company to acquire the networks for a discount. Sinclair acquired those networks from Disney, formerly operating under the Fox Sports brand, for $9.6 billion in 2019.

What would FanDuel be buying?

Diamond airs games regionally from 15 NBA teams, 11 NHL teams, and 11 MLB teams, though several of those rights expire at the end of current league seasons. Meanwhile, stalled negotiations with Comcast, its third-largest distributor, have pushed back extension talks.

A deal with Diamond would bring the FanDuel brand to major cities without legal sports betting, such as Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles.

FanDuel-branded channels would still reach subscribers of league streaming services like MLB TV or NBA League Pass. It is unclear how a potential deal would coincide with Amazon’s principle agreement to stream Diamond’s games on Prime Video.

Would FanDuel do more than Ballys?

When Bally’s acquired those naming rights for a reported $85 million in 2020, chairman Soo Kim described it as “an opportunity to revolutionize the US sports betting, gaming, and media industries.”

“Sinclair, with its broad holdings of stations, channels and RSNs, provides immediate, national brand recognition that will support the development of Bally’s player database for both our traditional casinos as well as our future online offerings, and ultimately deliver significant shareholder value,” Kim said at the time.

A few years later, those Bally Sports TV channels began featuring content from rival sportsbooks. Earlier this year, Bally’s abandoned $3 billion in acquisitions before relaunching Bally Bet on third-party technology, laying off 15% of its online gaming workforce in the process.

Photo by AP/Jeff Roberson