By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I thought that Diamond Sports and the Bally Sports Arizona channel had a deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. What happened? Why did it fall apart? — Tate, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tate, Diamond Sports, which declared bankruptcy in March, is scheduled to walk into a Texas bankruptcy court today to ask the presiding judge to reject its agreement to broadcast the Arizona Diamondbacks games on Bally Sports Arizona. Since the Diamondbacks were involved in crafting the motion to reject the deal, there’s little chance that Judge Christopher Lopez will oppose the request.

Update: Judge Lopez approved the rejection motion on Tuesday. Now we await a response from Major League Baseball.

Update #2: Major League Baseball takes over the Diamondbacks broadcasts.

The move is a surprise to some industry observers who have speculated in the past few weeks that Diamond Sports and the Diamondbacks could reach a new agreement for the RSN company to continue broadcasting the games. Diamond Sports, in fact, fueled that speculation by requesting a postponement for a hearing on an earlier motion to reject the Diamondbacks pact because it said it was engaged in ‘positive’ discussions with the team.

But Diamond’s filing yesterday to definitively end the current agreement suggests three possible reasons for why there will not be a new deal:

1. The negotiations for a new agreement were a long shot.
Diamond Sports did say the negotiations were ‘positive,’ but that doesn’t mean the two sides were ever close to a new deal. Many in the media, including yours truly, may have overestimated the chances of a new agreement based on that ‘positive’ remark.

The New York Post reported last week that Diamond Sports and the Diamondbacks were “close” to signing a new agreement. But perhaps the Post story got it wrong. We don’t know.

2. Or perhaps the Post was right and Rob Manfred killed the deal.
The New York Post’s article also said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, a frequent critic of Diamond Sports, had threatened to veto a new deal with the Diamondbacks because it could be too favorable to the RSN (regional sports networks) company. Maybe the Post story was spot on and Manfred’s threat was enough for the Diamondbacks and/or Diamond Sports to walk away from the table.

3. Diamond Sports’ loss of its Phoenix Suns agreement made the Diamondbacks deal less valuable.
Diamond Sports last week officially lost its agreement with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns whose games were also on Bally Sports Arizona. Did the RSN company become less interested in keeping the Diamondbacks because Bally Sports Arizona would no longer have the market’s NBA team? It’s possible that Diamond wanted to keep the Diamondbacks deal alive until the fate of the Suns situation became clear. If it had worked out a new agreement with the Suns, maybe Diamond would have tried to do the same with the Diamondbacks.

We may never know the answers here, but Diamond Sports’ path to profitability has certainly provided us with plenty of intrigue.

Tate, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann