By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I am a Texas Rangers fan. Can you explain how the bankruptcy with Bally might affect the Rangers? I read that games could be lost. Is that true? — Elizabeth, Plano, Texas.
Elizabeth, as you know. Diamond Sports, the owner and operating unit for the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, has declared bankruptcy with the intent to restructure its debt and financial agreements with the teams and leagues. (The company has the broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.)
Diamond has missed payments to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians, according to Sports Business Journal. It’s unclear if the company will ultimately make those payments during a 15-day grace period, but they could lose their TV rights in court if they do not. (Diamond has also missed a payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks but that is not expected to affect its rights because it’s part of the bankruptcy filing.)
SBJ writes that Diamond has made payments on time to eight other teams in the past week: Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Rays, Royals and Tigers. In addition, the San Diego Padres has said publicly that it has received its payment from Diamond.
And that brings us to the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds. SBJ reports that the next payments due are to those two teams. The Reds’ payment is unlikely to be paid on time, the publication says, while the Rangers situation is unclear.
The Athletic has reported that the Rangers have sent a letter to Diamond stating that they plan to take back their broadcast rights if the payment is not made. However, it’s not that simple. The team and/or the league would have to go to bankruptcy court and petition for the rights to be returned. It’s unclear how long that could take and whether it would be successful.
Diamond may also be inclined now to make the Rangers payment because the team is expected to perform better this season thanks to the addition of players such as pitcher Jacob deGrom and shortstop Corey Seager. That could trigger improved ratings for Bally Sports Southwest (the TV home of the Rangers) which could make the channel profitable.
Bottom line: It’s the fourth inning in a tie game and it could go either way. The Rangers could stay on Bally for the entire season or Diamond might decide to shed the rights as part of its reorganization. However, let’s note that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has vowed to keep all games on TV regardless of how the Diamond bankruptcy plays out.
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