By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I read your article about Diamond Sports ending its contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. My question is this: Does that mean it will get rid of more MLB contracts like the Twins and Reds? Which team is likely to go next and will Major League Baseball take over the TV rights? — Wayne, Cleveland, Ohio.
Wayne, Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy last March, yesterday filed an emergency motion in bankruptcy court to terminate its contract to carry the Arizona Diamondbacks on Bally Sports Arizona as soon as June 30. The court must approve the motion but it’s likely to happen.
Diamond Sports, which owns the 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, filed a similar motion on May 30 to reject the San Diego Padres agreement and it was approved. Major League Baseball then took over the Padres broadcasts.
The move to end the Diamondbacks deal may have surprised some industry observers. Arizona is in first place in the NL West and the Phoenix market is the 11th largest in Major League Baseball. However, court documents show that Diamond Sports is losing money on the Bally Sports Arizona channel which broadcasts the Diamondbacks. And Diamond’s motion to reject the agreement states that the company would lose additional “significant sums” if it continues to carry the team.
There are three other teams that could be on the Diamond Sports chopping block: Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds. The RSN company must make its regular quarterly payments to the three teams over the next three weeks.
You might think that Diamond Sports will drop one or all three since each is in a smaller market than Phoenix. But bankruptcy court documents show that Bally Sports Ohio, the TV home of the Reds, is actually making money. The Twins’ channel, Bally Sports North, is profitable as well, although not by nearly as much as the Reds RSN. (We don’t have numbers on the Guardians’ Bally Sports Great Lakes channel.)
So the company’s decision to terminate the Diamondbacks agreement does not necessarily mean it will do the same for the three teams. Diamond Sports is trying to reorganize as a profitable company, and if those contracts add to the bottom line, they will keep them.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann