By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, have you heard if Bally Sports will pay up to the Padres or will Major League Baseball take over the TV rights and air the games on MLB TV? Is there an update here? — Brad, San Diego.
Brad, Diamond Sports, which runs the 19 Bally regional sports networks (that air the games of 14 MLB teams), has declared bankruptcy to try to restructure its debt, and likely, its financial arrangements with NBA, NHL and MLB teams. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has signaled the league is prepared to take back Bally’s broadcast rights if it misses any payments to its teams. (The NBA and NHL seem inclined now to work with Bally to find a solution, in part because their seasons are nearly over.)
The bankruptcy filing reveals that Diamond has already missed a payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, Sports Business Journal reports that the bankruptcy case would likely complicate any MLB effort to seize the Diamondbacks’ rights because the payment was missed before the filing. That would suggest Bally’s Arizona broadcasts will proceed as normal, at least for now.
The real battleground, SBJ writes, is today when Diamond faces a deadline to make its payment to the San Diego Padres. The company has already missed a payment, but it has until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to make it up, according to SBJ which adds that the company might do so because the talent-laden Padres are likely to generate higher ratings this season. That would make the channel more profitable.
So has anything happened?
The San Diego Union-Tribune just reported that Diamond has assured the Padres that the payment will be met, which would appear to delay any MLB-Diamond showdown for now.
“Padres Chief Executive Officer Erik Greupner said on 97.3 The Fan on Wednesday morning that the team had been assured payment would arrive before the grace period was set to expire late Wednesday,” the newspaper writes.
That would seem to guarantee that Diamond will continue to do the Padres broadcasts and MLB will have to wait to see if the company misses a payment to another team in the near future. SBJ writes that MLB is prepared to ask the bankruptcy court if a future payment is missed.
Update: The Padres confirm the payment was made.
The New York Post has reported Diamond is wavering on whether to pay the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds because the channels for both teams are not profitable. It’s unclear when those payments are scheduled.
Brad, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann
Is there a place to read the bankruptcy filing? I would like to know exactly how much Diamond actually pays for the teams local cable rights.