By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

Despite the season-long friction between Major League Baseball and Diamond Sports, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says the RSN company has paid 94 percent of the money it owes to teams with whom it has broadcasting agreements, according to an Associated Press article.

Speaking yesterday to reporters at the 2023 All-Star Game in Seattle, Manfred said the teams are still able to spend normally on player salaries despite fears earlier this season that they might have to cut back if Diamond Sports ended broadcast agreements.

Diamond Sports, which owns 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, declared bankruptcy in March and has notified the court that it’s considering ending certain team pacts, which it can under bankruptcy law. However, thus far, Diamond Sports has only rejected its deal with the San Diego Padres. MLB took over the Padres broadcasts on May 31, the day after Diamond Sports ended the agreement.

“Of the rights fees that have come due, I think we’ve collected 94 percent of those rights fees so far. And that’s really important,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said, according to AP. “We have backstopped clubs to make sure that there isn’t some unforeseen alteration in their revenue, and all that’s designed to put clubs in a position to not have disruption when it comes to the most important side of their business, that is putting a good team on the field.”

Of course, getting Diamond Sports to pay those fees was not easy. MLB went to court to stop a Diamond Sports motion to reduce its team payments. Judge Chris Lopez, the bankruptcy judge in the case, agreed with MLB and ordered the RSN company to pay the teams in full.

MLB in May began selling the Padres games on MLB TV in the San Diego market for $74.99 for the entire season. Manfred says that Padres subscriptions are “well into the five figures.” He did not provide a specific number, however.

Will Diamond Sports Keep the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks?

The commissioner acknowledged that the financial issues affecting Diamond Sports and other RSN networks are ongoing. Diamond Sports this week still has to make a decision on the Cincinnati Reds agreement and it’s negotiating with the Arizona Diamondbacks to continue that deal.

“Well before the Diamond bankruptcy, we were kind of on the topic of that part of the media landscape changing,” he said. “Our goal from the beginning has been to make a transition from the current situation into a new model that did two things, number one, increase the availability of our games to fans, and number two, to minimize any financial disruption for clubs.”

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— Phillip Swann