By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, it looks like Diamond Sports and Bally Sports will be around for a while. They are keeping their team contracts although some people said they wouldn’t. What is your take? Is the regional sports network crisis, as you dub it, over? — Mitch, New York.

Mitch, Diamond Sports seems to be on its way to emerging from bankruptcy court as a profitable company. The owner of the 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks has only rejected one team agreement (San Diego Padres) while continuing to broadcast the games of several other teams (Twins, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Guardians) that some thought would be under Major League Baseball’s auspices by now. (MLB has done the Padres games since May 31 after Diamond Sports ended its pact with the club.)

DS still has to resolve the Diamondbacks situation (the two are discussing ways to keep the current agreement intact) while paying the Cincinnati Reds on July 15 (which is likely.) But there’s a good chance that the company will broadcast the games of 13 MLB teams for the remainder of the 2023 season. It started the season with 14 MLB teams and last spring few were giving DS a chance to have the rights to even 10 teams by the All-Star Game break.

This has been quite the turnaround for the beleaguered outfit which has dodged obstacle after obstacle.

But Diamond Sports’ biggest challenge, and its most important one, lies ahead.

The company’s carriage agreements with DIRECTV and Comcast, the nation’s two largest pay TV providers, are set to expire this fall. Failure to keep both would be devastating and even the loss of one could destroy the progress the company has made this year. Diamond Sports could wind up back in bankruptcy court if that occurred. But this time it would likely motion to dissolve rather than reorganize.

DIRECTV and Comcast know that DS desperately needs their business so they will be particularly tough in the carriage negotiations.

The company also has to renew team agreements that may expire after the 2023 MLB season as well as maintain its deals with 12 NHL and 16 NBA teams.

But it won’t matter if they lose carriage on DIRECTV and Comcast.

Mitch, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann