TV Answer Man, I would like to cut cable and get Bally Sports Plus to watch my team, the Cleveland Guardians. But I know Bally may be bankrupt soon. Will that stop Bally Sports Plus from adding the Guardians before the season? — Jim, Cleveland.
Jim, the regional sports network crisis has many fans confused with Bally Sports’ operating unit, Diamond Sports, possibly declaring bankruptcy later this month and Warner Bros Discovery threatening to stop broadcasting games on their AT&T-named RSNs by the end of March.
But let’s examine how a Diamond Sports bankruptcy could affect Bally Sports Plus.
Bally Sports Plus, which costs $19.99 a month or $189.99 a year, streams the live games of 16 NBA and 12 NHL teams, but it has only secured the streaming rights to five MLB teams thus far. They are the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns Diamond, has frequently expressed hope that it will add more teams before the 2023 MLB season. (The nine teams that Sinclair/Diamond has not secured deals with are: Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels.)
However, with bankruptcy looming, it’s difficult to envision a scenario where more MLB teams will agree to sell its rights to Diamond Sports before the season starts on March 30. Diamond seems interested in continuing the Bally Sports broadcasts but under a new financial arrangement with its creditors, including the leagues and their teams. The missing MLB teams would probably want to wait to see what Diamond has planned before moving forward with Bally Sports Plus.
In addition, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has suggested the league could take back Bally’s broadcasting rights if Diamond misses a payment due to a bankruptcy filing.
Bottom line: The situation is too uncertain at this time for one of the nine missing MLB teams to make a deal with Diamond.
Jim, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann