By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, is there anything new with DIRECTV’s negotiations to keep Bally Sports in its lineup? We really want to keep watching our Braves on DIRECTV. Please keep us informed and we thank you for all you do. — Carrie, Marietta, Georgia.
Carrie, DIRECTV is now negotiating with Diamond Sports, the owner of the Bally Sports regional sports networks, to renew its carriage agreement to carry the RSNs, including Bally Sports South, the TV home of the Atlanta Braves. The current contract is expected to end sometime this fall, but we don’t have an exact date.
DIRECTV has filed a statement in the bankruptcy court for Diamond Sports that says there’s no guarantee the current agreement will be extended. (Diamond Sports declared bankruptcy in March and is seeking to reorganize as a profitable company.) The satcaster notes the negotiations have “barely begun” and that the companies haven’t even resolved the issue of possible cost reductions based on the RSN company’s loss of two team agreements (the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres) when it decided to end their broadcast deals because they were deemed unprofitable.
“Despite the fact that the (Diamond Sports’) Distribution Agreements with DIRECTV terminate by their terms later this year (unless DIRECTV opts to extend), the (Diamond Sports) renewal discussions with DIRECTV have barely begun. Even agreements on preliminary matters related to such renewal discussions, such as alignment on cost-based reductions for loss of specific teams’ rights, have thus far not been reachable,” DIRECTV said in the court motion.
If it sounds like DIRECTV isn’t enthusiastic about renewing the Bally Sports agreement, there may be a good reason. In fact, there may be three good reasons:
1. DIRECTV knows that the RSN firm desperately needs its business so it can play hardball in the carriage negotiations. This could lead to an impasse.
2. If the negotiations fail, and Diamond Sports also can’t renew its agreement with Comcast this fall, it will likely mean the end of the RSN company, and the leagues and teams would take over the broadcasts. It might be easier, and cheaper, for DIRECTV and Comcast to secure carriage deals with the leagues and teams. So DIRECTV may have motivation NOT to renew the Bally Sports deal unless Diamond Sports rolls over.
3. Bloomberg reported this week that Apple, Amazon, Disney and Google’s YouTube are all interested in streaming local NBA games if Diamond Sports does not continue broadcasting them. And DIRECTV is also interested in buying the local NBA rights, Bloomberg writes. This is more reason why DIRECTV may have motivation NOT to renew the Bally Sports deal.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes in the talks. Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann