Sinclair details interactive streaming app for former Fox RSNs

person holding smartphone
CEO Chris Ripley said that league partners including MLB, NBA and NHL have all responded enthusiastically to Sinclair and Bally’s gamification efforts. (Getty Images)

Sinclair today provided more details about an interactive streaming app its developing for its Fox regional sports networks, which will be relaunched with Bally’s branding.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Chris Ripley said the app will include free-to-play contests, rewards, and the ability to engage and interact with other fans.

“The idea is to make watching sports similar to playing a video game,” he said.

The app is part of broader gamification initiatives that Sinclair is partnering with Bally’s to create. Sinclair’s broadcast television stations, RSNs, networks including the Tennis Channel, and ad-supported streaming service, STIRR, will be used to drive engagement for Bally’s betting platform.

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Ripley said that league partners including MLB, NBA and NHL have all responded enthusiastically to Sinclair and Bally’s gamification efforts, which the companies expect will help drive more engagement among younger viewers.

“These viewers still have great affinity for these sports but just don’t consume the games at nearly the same capacity as their parents. Having interactive engagement, having rewards, we believe in that being a key to unlocking their fandom,” he said.

Ripley also said that the MLB season coming up and the recent returns of the NBA and NHL have definitely raised the value proposition for Sinclair’s RSNs with distributors.

Sinclair still doesn’t have distribution agreements in place for its RSNs with YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, the two largest U.S. virtual MVPDs in terms of subscribers. The company’s fourth-quarter distribution revenue declined but the company said it’s accounting for potential outcomes with its first-quarter guidance.

“What’s in that range is some assumption for some amount of carriage renewals that may come back on. We’re not going to get into who, how much, when or anything like that,” said Sinclair CFO Lucy Motsay Rutishauser.