By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
Diamond Sports, the bankrupt owner of the Bally Sports regional sports channels, has secured short-term carriage agreements with both DIRECTV and Comcast, according to the New York Post. “It has reached an agreement in principle with Comcast on a carriage deal for roughly one year and has just reached a similar contract with DIRECTV, sources said,” the newspaper says in an article published late Thursday night. The Post adds that the RSN company has also made a ‘take-it-or-leave’ offer to the NBA and NHL to cut their broadcast fees by as much as 20 percent which would allow Diamond Sports to continue without liquidation. The leagues are leaning to accepting the offer, the Post says.
The agreements with Comcast and DIRECTV are crucial to providing Diamond with sufficient funds to make their regular payments to the NHL and NBA teams for the 2023-24 season, which begins next month. The company is facing a Saturday deadline to submit its reorganization plan to creditors, according to Sports Business Journal. Without deals with Comcast and DIRECTV, it would be problematic for Diamond to provide a plan where it would be profitable while making the team payments. If the Post report is correct, the agreements will enable the company to continue for at least a year, assuming it can modify its contracts with the NBA and NHL teams. The company has TV rights deals with 15 NBA teams and 12 NHL clubs.
The Post report has not been confirmed yet by other publications and Diamond Sports did not comment, according to the newspaper. But the Post writes that Diamond is still contemplating different scenarios if a new deal with the NBA and NHL cannot be reached. One would be that the company only carries teams in markets it deems as profitable. Another would be it would continue operating only as long as it made a profit to satisfy the creditors.
Update: A Wall Street Journal article on Saturday (September 30) substantially reiterates the Post report.
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— Phillip Swann