By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
The New York Post is reporting that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, a frequent critic of Diamond Sports, is threatening to veto its new deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks because it would be more favorable to the RSN (regional sports networks) company.
Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, and owns 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, last month filed a motion in bankruptcy court to end its contract with the Diamondbacks. But a week later, it filed a new motion to postpone a June 30 hearing on that request until July 17. The company issued a statement that said it’s in “positive” discussions with the Diamondbacks to find a “solution.”
The Post writes that Diamond Sports is close to negotiating a new five-year deal that would reduce its payments to the Diamondbacks by 20 percent as well as authorize the company’s Bally Sports Plus app to sell the team’s games in-market via streaming.
But Manfred, who has said the league will take over any team’s broadcasts if Diamond rejects its contract, is threatening to block the deal in that form. The commissioner apparently is concerned that Diamond Sports will seek similar terms from the 12 other MLB teams it broadcasts.
Major League Baseball did begin broadcasting the San Diego Padres games on May 31 after Diamond Sports rejected its agreement with the team on May 30. As part of the bankruptcy process, the company is permitted to end current agreements as part of its effort to become profitable.
The New York Post says Diamond Sports did not comment specifically on its report other than to say: “We are having discussions with the Diamondbacks but have not yet reached a deal.”
MLB declined to comment, the newspaper writes.
While it’s public record that Diamond Sports and the Diamondbacks are negotiating, there’s no guarantee that a new deal is close or that Manfred is threatening to veto it. The New York Post reported last March that MLB was planning to offer games for free on MLB TV if Diamond Sports rejected a team’s contract.
“Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will have the league take over the local broadcasts of the money-losing teams and stream them for free in their respective local markets as he negotiates with their cable companies for lower contracts, a source with knowledge of the discussions said,” the same New York Post reporter wrote then.
However, that never happened. Instead, MLB sold the Padres games on MLB TV for $74.99 for the season.
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— Phillip Swann