By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I agree with you that DIRECTV will likely keep the Bally Sports channels for the reasons you wrote about but what do you think about Comcast? Will our cable service keep the Bally channels? — Timothy, St. Paul.
Timothy, Diamond Sports, the owner of the Bally Sports channels, has to renew its carriage agreements with DIRECTV and Comcast this fall. The renewals are critical for the regional sports network (RSN) company because it has declared bankruptcy, and it desperately needs to keep the carriage fees flowing to keep making payments to the teams/leagues for the TV rights. Earlier this week, I wrote that DIRECTV is likely to renew its agreement with Diamond. You can see the article here. But now let’s look at Comcast.

The nation’s largest cable operator is in a different situation than DIRECTV. Unlike DIRECTV, Comcast has not made live sports an integral part of its marketing effort. DIRECTV, which carries nearly every RSN, will often run commercials targeted exclusively to sports fans. Comcast, however, tends to produce more general marketing campaigns that would appeal to all potential customers, not just sports enthusiasts. Not surprisingly, the cable operator has acted accordingly, allowing carriage agreements with MSG (TV home of the New York Knicks and other area teams) and Altitude (TV home of the Denver Rockets, Colorado Avalanche) to expire in recent years. Comcast is not dependent on carrying sports channels, such as Bally.

This will likely make it more difficult for Diamond Sports to secure a new agreement with Comcast. The cable operator will be more inclined to walk away if the terms are unsatisfactory. Comcast will also likely have the same concerns that DIRECTV has about Diamond’s bankruptcy and whether it can continue carrying its full lineup of teams. (Bally Sports now has 12 MLB teams, 12 NHL teams and 15 NBA teams, but it has ended deals with the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres this year as part of its bankruptcy reorganization plan.)

Bottom line: We don’t know the exact day when the current Comcast-Bally Sports agreement ends, but I would say it’s only 50-50 that they renew it this fall. This has been a year of challenges for Diamond Sports, but the Comcast renewal may wind up as its biggest challenge of all.

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

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— Phillip Swann