By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, any updates with Bally Sports doing the Atlanta Braves TV games? Will they keep doing them or will they stop paying at some point? What’s your take? — Jason, Smyrna, Georgia.
Jason, as you know, Bally Sports South, which is owned and operated by Diamond Sports, has the regional TV rights to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves broadcasts, along with the broadcasts of other MLB teams carried by the Bally Sports nets, have been somewhat in doubt this season thanks to Diamond declaring bankruptcy in March. Since the bankruptcy filing, Diamond has ended its TV agreements with two teams (San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks) as part of its effort to reorganize as a profitable company. But what about the Braves, you ask? Is the broadcasting deal for the NL East leader in peril, too?
Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei last week was asked about the team’s RSN partnership in an earnings call after the release of the company’s second quarter report. (Liberty Media owns the Braves.) Maffei said Diamond Sports has made its payments to the Braves and he expects the company will continue to do so because the team is one of the most successful in the game, on and off the field.
“We’re blessed to have an incredibly strong territory — 14 million broadband households, a fan base that is very appreciative of a very successful team, and a reasonable deal on what we are paid by Diamond,” Maffei said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We think we are probably the most profitable RSN they have. Some of the other ones were less attractive as territories or as fan bases, or relatively less attractive in relative revenue to cost for Bally. And that’s why in the bankruptcy proceedings they were terminated by Bally.”
The Liberty Media chief said his company is ready to find an alternative if that scenario changes. But Maffei added he doesn’t expect that to be necessary. “But if it does happen, there will be other alternatives because of the strength of our product and the demand in our territory that will generate for us positive returns,” Maffei said.
Jason, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann