By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, with Major League Baseball taking over the Padres games, does this mean that blackouts are over like Manfred said they would be? We have a bunch of teams blacked out here! — Tony, Las Vegas.
Tony, Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, yesterday failed to make its grace period payment to the San Diego Padres which means the broadcast rights will revert back to Major League Baseball and the team. MLB will take over the broadcasts of the Padres games beginning with tonight’s 6:40 p.m. ET matchup against the Miami Marlins.
Under the new management, the Padres games will continue to be available on DIRECTV, Cox, Spectrum, Fubo and AT&T U-verse. But in a new wrinkle, MLB TV will offer the Padres games in the San Diego market for $74.99 for the full season or $19.99 a month.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said repeatedly that if MLB is forced to take back the broadcast rights of any team, there would be no blackouts in-market. And true to his word, there will be no MLB TV blackouts in the Padres area, except for games that are exclusives to Peacock, ESPN and Apple TV+.
Before you start celebrating in Vegas or any other market, this is just for San Diego. However, if Diamond refuses to pay other teams, which is a possibility, MLB will provide the games in-market without blackouts on MLB.TV. Diamond is evaluating whether certain teams are profitable or not and it could jettison more rights. Teams that could fall into this category include the Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Guardians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
In addition, Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns three AT&T-named regional sports networks, are negotiating to turn back the rights to the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates. Those three teams could be blackout-free on MLB TV in 2024.
As for other teams, and RSNs, there’s no indication of an imminent problem. But all RSNs face the same economic obstacles that Diamond has tripped on so anything possible in the next few years. RSN carriage fees have declined rapidly in the last few years due to shrinking cable and satellite subscriptions and there’s no reason to think that situation will get better.
Tony, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann