By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, what’s the latest with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Bally Sports? Will they stay on Bally or will Major League Baseball do the games? That is my hope!! — Dale, Scottsdale, Arizona.
Dale, Diamond Sports, the owner of the 18 Bally Sports regional sports networks, filed last month in bankruptcy court to reject the Diamondbacks deal. However, the company, which declared bankruptcy in March, filed a later motion to postpone a hearing on the request to today, July 17. Diamond Sports said it was in ‘positive’ discussions with the team to continue broadcasting Arizona’s games.
But it would appear that those negotiations have entered extra innings with the outcome much in doubt.
Will Bally Sports Keep Doing Arizona Diamondbacks Games?
The bankruptcy court on Thursday, July 15, issued an order moving the hearing to Tuesday, July 18. The order does not offer an explanation for the change or reveal which party requested it. It’s certainly possible that it was moved for logistical reasons – perhaps the judge or a presiding attorney is not available on Monday – but it could be because the negotiators need more time.
That reason is supported by an Arizona Diamondbacks statement released during yesterday’s Bally Sports Arizona broadcast of the team’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. AZCentral.com reports that Diamondbacks play-by-play broadcaster Steve Berthiaume told viewers that Tuesday’s court hearing “may result in new channels for the games to be seen.”
Note that Berthiaume said ‘may’ and not ‘will,’ which would suggest the deal could still go either way. But if Diamond Sports ultimately decides to reject the Diamondbacks agreement, Major League Baseball would likely step in and begin broadcasting the games the next day. (This is what the league did in May when Diamond Sports rejected its contract with the San Diego Padres. MLB started broadcasting the Padres games the next day, making them available for $74.99 on MLB.TV and on a new channel on pay TV services.)
The Diamondbacks statement said fans should check the team’s web site on Tuesday for updates.
The Diamond Sports-Diamondbacks situation gets even more complicated when you consider that The New York Post reported last week that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, a frequent critic of Diamond Sports, has threatened to veto a new deal with the Diamondbacks because it could be more favorable to the RSN (regional sports networks) company.
Plus, Diamond Sports last week officially lost its agreement with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns whose games were also on Bally Sports Arizona. Would the RSN company now be less inclined to keep the Diamondbacks since the Arizona channel has been weakened with the loss of the Suns?
The TV Answer Man will monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann