Weekly Column: Can Naming-Rights deal Save Regional Sports Networks?

In his capacity as a Columnist for California Sports Lawyer®, Founder and Managing Attorney Jeremy Evans has written a column about the potential for a Diamond Sports Group naming-rights deal that will save regional sports networks and increase sports betting access.    

You can read the full column below.


It is a start. The influx of cash will help Diamond Sports Group, currently in bankruptcy court proceedings, and is seeking a new naming-rights partner at the deal with Bally’s Sports expires. The new naming rights deal is set to include both DraftKings and FanDuel, both sports betting companies, and competitors, like Bally’s.

One issue with the naming rights deal once closed will be a fix to on-going problem of reduced viewership with cable television. Second, a naming-rights deal with two major sportsbooks while professional athletes seem to highlight the weekly news in scandal with sports betting violations is not ideal, but hopefully manageable. For the first issue, regional sports networks (“RSN”) like Diamond through parent Sinclair Broadcasting needs to find a way to get out of bankruptcy court proceedings with the ability to pay off debts and keep the proverbial lights on for business to continue. The business model must also change.

One solution to the distribution problem is increasing distribution through the opening up of dealmaking with streamers like Amazon. RSNs should be finding partners at a reduced buy-rate and/or inclusive-bundles that allows RSNs to treat streamers like cable partners with placing the channel on as many streaming platforms as possible. The key is to get views and engagement, while sacrificing some dollars that were going to expire anyway to other content and loss of subscriptions to newer ways to consume content.

Dollars that could potentially be made up with sports betting increasing engagement, views, advertising, and fan interest. The marketing, public relations, and management issue for sports leagues and players is to stay on the right side of the law and policy as to sports betting. This is increasing hard to do as sports betting becomes more main stream, acceptable, and maybe most importantly accesible.

Accessibility to sports betting has never been more available in history with the technological advancements, artificial intelligence tools, digital revolution, and state legislatures passing legislation to introduce regulatory schemes to allow for sports betting within their borders post-Murphy. Accessibility is good for business and crime, which means compliance will be all that more important in the future of sports, which is now. States and sports leagues should also weigh the risk and costs or increased access to sports betting on the psyche of players and personnel with increased tax revenue, revenue in general, and engagement.

Hopefully, the new RSN’s will act more like SSN’s, no not social security numbers, but streaming sports networks (“SSN”). A new term coined writing this column. SSN’s that are viable, monetizable, and portable. RSN’s hopefully learned the lesson that exclusivity being distributed by a less popular technology is actually bad for the business of sports. Portable and flexibility in contracts should be goal. With the NFL antitrust litigation as example, RSN’s should avoid exclusivity.    


About Jeremy M. Evans:

Jeremy M. Evans is the Chief Entrepreneur Officer, Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clients in contractual, intellectual property, and dealmaking matters. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles and Newport Beach, California. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com. www.CSLlegal.com.  

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Jeremy M. Evans is the CEO, Founder & Managing Attorney of California Sports Lawyer® representing entertainment, media, and sports clients and is licensed to practice law in California.