By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, is there anything new with the Atlanta Braves TV broadcasts if Bally Sports doesn’t pay their fees? Are they preparing to do their own TV games if that happens? — Dale, Augusta, Georgia.
Dale, as you know, Bally Sports South, which is owned and operated by Diamond Sports, has the regional TV rights to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves broadcasts, along with the broadcasts of other MLB teams carried by the 19 Bally Sports nets, have been somewhat in doubt this season thanks to Diamond declaring bankruptcy in March. Diamond has missed payments to a handful of MLB teams (the Braves are not one) and a bankruptcy court has set a May 31 hearing to determine if the company can reduce its payments in the future.
But it would appear, for now at least, that the Braves’ TV future is less uncertain than some other teams. The team is in first place (again) and local ratings continue to be strong. Diamond Sports undoubtedly will make its regular payments to the Braves and continue doing their games throughout the season. Bally Sports South is likely one of Diamond’s most profitable channels.
Liberty Media, which owns the Braves, says it’s ready to find an alternative if that scenario changes. But LM CEO Greg Maffei said on Friday that he doesn’t expect that to be necessary.
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“Look, obviously, it’s a difficult situation given Diamond’s (bankruptcy) filing. That having been said, we continue to receive payments from our Sports South contract. That is not true for some other RSNs out there, but my understanding is 3 or 4 have not received payments from Diamond. And that, I think, reflects the fundamental strength of the territory we have and the interest in the Braves such that our understanding is we have a profitable RSN,” Maffei told financial analysts on Friday during the company’s investors call following the release of its first quarter report.
He added: “So it’s unlikely that Diamond will view us as an executory contract which they wish to reject even if they were to reject it, which again, don’t expect, I think there are other alternatives we could construct in the marketplace that would enable us to get paid and have our products shown to our fans, which is really the most important thing. And we’re certainly prepared if we have to, to go out and exercise those alternatives.”
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Sounds like the Braves and Bally will stay partners for the foreseeable future.
Dale, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann
I would imagine the Braves are a profitable team for Bally/Diamond. Their were one of the first to have their games carried exclusively on TV(thanks Ted Turner/TBS). I would also think with the team being owned by Liberty Media producing games would be easy and probably more profitable for them than the current agreement. MLB is the one controlling the games now.