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Royals strike renewal of local rights deal with Sinclair

Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals have renewed their local rights agreement with Fox Sports Kansas City, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, in a multiyear deal.

Representing one of the first major contracts for both Royals owner John Sherman and Sinclair Broadcast Group in their current roles, the agreement will keep the Royals on the regional sports network, where it has been exclusively since 2008 and overall since 2000.

The length and financial value of the extension were not disclosed. But prior media reports have suggested the contract is worth around $50m per year, roughly double what the Royals had been reaping in the prior local rights agreement, and generally in line with current MLB local rights deals given Kansas City’s relatively small market size.

Fox Sports Kansas City is also televising 59 of the Royals’ 60 games this year in the 2020 season that was significantly adjusted due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, essentially operating in a handshake agreement following the conclusion of the prior contract term.

“Fox Sports Kansas City has been an outstanding partner, not only in bringing our fans the action on the field but working with us in the community and in countless charity endeavors,” Sherman said. “We are currently ranked fourth in Major League Baseball in television ratings thanks to our fans who are among the knowledgable and loyal in all of baseball.”

That ratings strength arrives despite Kansas City currently standing as MLB’s third-smallest media market, ranking ahead of just Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

“This is a great deal with an important longtime partner that allows us additional flexibility for distribution and digital rights,” said Chris Ripley, Sinclair Broadcast Group president and chief executive. “It’s been the network’s honor to bring Royals fans some of the greatest moments in franchise history, and we can’t wait to be part of many more in the years to come.”

The Royals were advised during the negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group by O’Melveny attorneys Irwin Raij, Robert Blashek, and Rob Catmull.

During the upcoming Royals contract term, the name and brand identity of Fox Sports Kansas City will change, as will Sinclair Broadcast Group’s other Fox Sports RSNs, as Ripley said in a recent earnings call with analysts the new brand identity for those networks is expected in early 2021.

The Royals, meanwhile, recently struck a deal with Patrick Mahomes, star quarterback with the neighboring Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League, for him to become a part-owner of the franchise.