By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, there’s something about Bally Sports and the missed payments to the teams that I don’t understand. Are they definitely saying they don’t want to carry their games any more? Why doesn’t Major League Baseball take over now? Can you explain this? A bit confused out here. — Todd, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Todd, I don’t blame you for being confused. Diamond Sports, the owner and operating unit for the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, declared bankruptcy last month and the move has Major League Baseball executives and fans alike looking for answers. (The company has the broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams, but the MLB situation is on the front burner because the NBA and NHL regular seasons are almost over.)
The latest kerfuffle was triggered by Diamond’s decision not to make its regular payments to the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians, as reported by Sports Business Journal. (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.) There are also multiple reports that Diamond may skip its payment to the Cincinnati Reds.
Click Amazon: See the 1-Day-Only Discounts!
Some have interpreted the non-payments as evidence that Diamond no longer wants to carry those teams. However, there are two points that people seem to be overlooking.
1. The Grace Period
Diamond has a 15-day grace period to make the payment (without penalty) to each club after the initial deadline is not met. It’s possible that the company will still decide to pay up. In fact, Diamond made its payment to the San Diego Padres during the grace period, according to ESPN.
2. Streaming Rights
Diamond only has the rights to stream five MLB teams on its cord-cutter Bally Sports Plus app: Kansas City, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. The remaining nine teams in Bally markets are not available on the Plus app. They are the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Angels.
The company could be using the grace period as a vehicle to renegotiate the contract to get the streaming rights to more teams. ESPN reports that Diamond tried but failed in its talks with the Padres although it decided to pay up without them. It’s possible that Diamond will take the same course with the Reds, Guardians and Twins, although it’s less likely those channels will be profitable in 2023, forcing Diamond to drop them.
Bottom line: When Major League Baseball says it has retaken the broadcast rights back and starts showing the games in-market without blackouts on MLB TV, we can conclude that Diamond has abandoned the teams. Until then, it’s just speculation.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this rapidly moving situation and report back here if anything significant changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this Amazon.com link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
Why do some reports say the grace period is 10 days and some reports say 15 days?
I never thought, at 46 years old, that a major sports league (MLB), would have trouble getting games on the devices that fans use to consume their sports. That as a Braves (team who recently won a world series and been in the play offs) fan, that I couldn’t watch a game without terrestrial stone age flintstones cable. That a franchise that has routine sell outs, I would encounter black outs in a region of the state that is over 4 hours away. This is by far the most archaic bone headed thing I have ever seen. And the fact this isn’t year one is more mind numbing. I hope MLB figures it out before they continue to erode or lose their fan base. Maybe to grow the game, make it more accessible and worry less about the pitch clock. But what do I know, I’m certainly not smart enough to figure this out. Congrats MLB, you’ve figured out how to make games shorter as your fan base continues to fizzle. Well done.