By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, does this bankruptcy ruling on the Bally Sports channels mean that the blackouts for the Diamondbacks will end? That would be great if we could get the games here on MLB TV and not have to get satellite or cable. — Shane, Phoenix.
Shane, a bankruptcy court judge last night ruled against Diamond Sports’ motion to reduce the payments it makes to four MLB teams (Twins, Guardians, Rangers, Diamondbacks) for the rights to carry their games. If it had won the case, Diamond Sports could have used the ruling as precedent to seek reduced payments to other teams whose games it carries. (Diamond Sports owns the 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks which carry 13 MLB teams, 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL teams.)
Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, now will have a tough decision to make: Pay the four teams in full or give up their broadcast rights. Chris Lopez, the judge, has not yet stipulated a specific date for when Diamond Sports has to pay up, but it will likely be in the coming weeks, if not days.
Since Diamond Sports has already paid 75 percent of its most recent quarterly payment to the teams, it’s possible the company could provide the remaining 25 percent and put off a final decision until summer when the next payment is scheduled. Of course, it could also decide now that its contracts with the four teams are not profitable, and never will be, and cut ties now.
If that happened, the broadcast rights of the four teams would be returned to Major League Baseball which would then become the primary broadcaster of their games. This is what happened this week when Diamond Sports decided not to pay the San Diego Padres its quarterly payment. MLB took over the broadcasts starting with Wednesday night’s game.
And as part of those broadcasts, MLB is providing the games in-market on MLB TV for $74.99 for the rest of the season or $19.99 a month. With no blackouts. Yes, no blackouts. You can watch the Padres on MLB TV in the San Diego market without having to get a cable or satellite subscription.
If Diamond Sports takes that course with the Twins, Rangers, Diamondbacks or Guardians, the same thing would happen. Their games would be available on MLB TV in market without blackouts. (They would also be available on cable and satellite providers, Fubo and DIRECTV Stream as part of a base subscription.)
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