By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, what is the latest with Major League Baseball and the Bally Sports channels? Is MLB taking over the games? Is Diamond going out of business or will they do the games indefinitely? What a mess, huh? — Justin, Chula Vista, California.
Justin, yes, what a mess. When we last left our heroes, MLB was running into Diamond’s bankruptcy court to demand that Diamond give up their broadcast rights if they failed to make a payment to a team while Diamond was missing team payments and demanding that the teams agree to reduced rights fees. (Diamond, the owner and operator of the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, last month declared bankruptcy although it wants to restructure its debts so it can continue as a RSN business.)
If it sounds complicated to you, imagine how the bankruptcy judge in Texas feels. So last week, he punted (sorry to mix sporting metaphors) the whole mess to May 31 when the two sides will present their arguments in an open hearing.
This means that we shouldn’t expect any major developments in this battle until then, and perhaps not even then. The bankruptcy court will have to rule whether Diamond can seek reduced payments before it can decide whether MLB can take back the broadcast rights for Diamond not making any payments. And that ruling could take some time after the May 31 hearing unless the judge already has his mind made up.
Over the next six weeks, we might hear that Diamond has missed another payment, perhaps to the Cincinnati Reds. (The company has already missed payments to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins.) But if it does, it will just go into the May 31 basket for the court’s consideration. (Diamond’s RSNs have the regional broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.)
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything (truly) significant happens.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann