By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
Diamond Sports, which last week filed a motion in bankruptcy court to drop its contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, yesterday filed a new motion to postpone a June 30 hearing on that request until July 17. The company, which owns 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, including Bally Sports Arizona, issued a statement that said it’s in “positive” discussions with the Diamondbacks to find a “solution.”
“Diamond Sports Group and the Arizona Diamondbacks have decided to postpone tomorrow’s hearing due to ongoing and positive discussions toward finding a solution,” the company’s statement states. “During this time, Bally Sports Arizona will continue to broadcast D-backs games and fans will have the same televised access they have been able to enjoy from the beginning of the season.”
The RSN company, which declared bankruptcy last March, was expected this week to abandon its rights to carry the Diamondbacks, as it did on May 30 when it dropped its agreement to carry the San Diego Padres. Major League Baseball then took over the Padres broadcast and league was expected to do the same with the Diamondbacks if the earlier motion was approved on June 30.
But the request to postpone the June 30 hearing, and the Diamondbacks statement, suggests it’s possible the two parties will sign a new agreement rather than part ways.
In the motion filed last week, Diamond Sports said it was requesting to terminate the Diamondbacks deal, as permitted under bankruptcy law, because it would “lose significant sums” if it did not. However, Diamond Sports and the Diamondbacks could establish a new fee structure that would enable the RSN company to make money from the venture. For the Diamondbacks, this could still be a victory because the Diamond Sports fees would likely be more than the team could get from any other broadcast partnership.
Diamond Sports was scheduled to make its next quarterly payment to the Diamondbacks on July 1, 2023.
Since the filing last March, Diamond Sports has been reviewing which contracts it should keep as it seeks to emerge from bankruptcy as a profitable company. Diamond earlier this month ended its agreement with Raycom to carry ACC games.
The company also has payments upcoming with the Minnesota Twins (July 1), Cleveland Guardians (July 1) and Cincinnati Reds (July 15.). There is no indication this morning if Diamond Sports will make those payments or seek to reject the contracts.
The TV Answer Man will provide an update here if we get more information.
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— Phillip Swann