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Sinclair Broadcast’s struggling Diamond Sports appoints CEO

A week after writing off an additional $1 billion of its value, the Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary that owns regional sports networks appointed a new CEO.

The subsidiary, Diamond Sports Group, said Monday that former NBC Sports Group executive David Preschlack will lead Diamond, which owns Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks. Preschlack was appointed by Diamond’s board of managers, on which he has served since May.

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Hunt Valley-based Sinclair reported Nov. 28 that it took a loss on the value of the 19 sports networks for the second time since buying them in 2019 for $10.6 billion from The Walt Disney Co. Diamond wrote off $1 billion of the rebranded networks’ book value in the recent third quarter, when it had a loss of $1.2 billion and cited a heavy loss of subscribers.

At the height of the pandemic when national sports leagues canceled games and cut seasons short, the TV station owner took a $4.2 billion charge to goodwill and intangible assets after the pandemic disrupted sporting events in 2020.

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The appointment of a new CEO continues efforts to make the networks more independent from Sinclair. Earlier this year, Sinclair refinanced Diamond’s debt and began reporting its financial performance separately as part of a financial deconsolidation.

Sinclair’s stock dropped about 4.5% Monday, closing at $17.42 a share.

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Preschlack has more than 25 years of sports marketing experience at NBC, Disney, and ESPN. He most recently served as president of NBC Sports Regional Networks and executive vice president of content strategy for the NBC Sports Group, where he oversaw nine big-market regional networks and managed relationships with partners such as NBA, MLB, and NHL teams.

“David is the ideal person to lead Diamond at this critical point in its development,” said Randy Freer, chairman of Diamond’s board, in the announcement, citing Preschlack’s track record managing relationships with major sports leagues and multichannel video programming distributors.

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley had said in a call with analysts last week that the networks are expected to generate revenue beyond subscriptions by adding gaming elements, e-commerce components and targeted ads. The networks are expected to benefit as well from the company’s new Bally Sports+, a direct-to-consumer streaming service that launched in September. During the call, Ripley said advisers from investment bank LionTree and Moelis are working with the company on deleveraging and potential strategic partnerships and said no sale is in process.

The Bally networks are the TV home to more than half of all MLB, NHL and NBA teams. Diamond also has a joint venture in Marquee, the broadcast home of the Chicago Cubs, and a minority interest in the YES Network, the local destination for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Preschlack said his focus over the next few months will be on strengthening both the balance sheet and relationships with the sports league partners.

“Diamond is uniquely situated to create a differentiated and truly integrated regional sports offering that puts fans first by delivering live local sports in an immersive engagement environment,” he said in the announcement.

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Ripley said he expects Diamond to “establish its independence moving forward under David’s leadership” with Sinclair continuing to offer management services.


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