By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, can you explain what will happen next with the Diamond Sports/Bally Sports situation? Will more MLB teams get cancelled? What about the NBA and NHL? – Dave, Atlanta. 

Dave, Diamond Sports, the owner of the Bally Sports regional sports networks, has had a busy summer and it’s not even half over.

The company, which declared bankruptcy in March, has ended its broadcasting agreements with two MLB teams (San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks) and one programmer (Raycom, which provides ACC college sports), opted out of a deal with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, and decided to keep four other MLB teams (Guardians, Reds, Twins and Rangers) under contract.

Oh, yeah, Diamond Sports last week also filed a lawsuit against its corporate parent, Sinclair Broadcasting, and J.P. Morgan over loan payments.

It’s never boring with Diamond Sports.

However, despite the recent flurry of activity, news about the RSN company may actually slow in the next several weeks. Diamond Sports says it plans to make all future scheduled payments to MLB teams for the 2023 season. That should guarantee that the company will broadcast the games of the remaining 12 MLB clubs shown on the Bally Sports RSNs until the end of the season.

Diamond says in court documents that broadcasting deals with three NBA and NHL teams will expire before the end of February 2024. But that’s seven months away.

The company also says in those court documents that it’s negotiating with NBA, NHL and MLB teams to establish “go-forward relationships,” suggesting new agreements that could reduce the company’s rights fees. The RSN firm has maintained for months that it needs to reduce its team payments because it is now receiving smaller carriage fees from pay TV operators due to cord-cutting. (Cable and satellite providers pay Diamond Sports, and other program suppliers, by the number of subscribers who have access to their channels. However, over the last several years, cord cutting has reduced the number of subscribers.)

But there doesn’t appear to be any major decisions coming up until fall when Diamond must negotiate new carriage agreements with Comcast and DIRECTV.

Of course, this is Diamond Sports so we should expect the unexpected. But on the surface, this regional sports network crisis may actually be less of a crisis for a while.

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

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— Phillip Swann