Report: DC United eye Sinclair for local TV rights

Report: DC United eye Sinclair for local TV rights
Major League Soccer’s (MLS) DC United have now turned their attentions to US media company Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBC) as their search continues for a new local broadcast deal, according to the Washington Post.

The newspaper had initially reported that the franchise have held talks with the NBC Sports Washington (NBCSW) network to become its new regional media partner. DC United have been on the lookout for a new regional media partner after cutting a short a four-year deal with the US subscription-based streaming service FloSports back in October after less than 12 months.

With the NBCSW talks said to be faltering due to programming conflicts with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Washington Capitals and National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Washington Wizards, SBC is apparently the new front-runner. It will reportedly carry 27 regular season games on its local outlets, WJLA (Channel 7) and WJLA 24/7 News. Both stations showed DC United games from 2016 through 2018.

SBC will also reportedly provide pre-game and post-game shows, as well as a mid-week show.

The franchise opted to pull the plug on its FloSports deal after the partnership was marred by technical problems and fan discontent over having to pay up to US$8.99 per month to access the streaming platform.

Though a shift back to a traditional broadcaster would negate the much-maligned buffering issues, Sinclair’s prior coverage of DC United was not without its own difficulties. WJLA 24/7 News, formerly known as NewsChannel 8, showed most games but did not have the regional reach via cable systems and live streams of NBCSW, the club’s partner for all but one of United’s first 20 seasons.

To compensate for SBC’s lesser reach, DC United could look to some of the company’s other stations in the region. SBC currently owns, operates and provides services to 191 stations in 89 markets, including Baltimore, Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke.

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