By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
Major League Baseball and five of its teams have filed an objection to Diamond Sports’ request for more time to reorganize in bankruptcy, charging the owner of the Bally Sports regional sports channels has burned through 90 percent of its cash reserves since filing bankruptcy last March. Diamond this month filed a request in bankruptcy court to delay submitting a plan for profitability by 60 days to November 29.
But MLB, which has been Diamond’s sharpest critic, yesterday said in its objection that the RSN company is no closer to becoming profitable than it was last spring when the league first started filing objections to the company’s plans. Diamond Sports, which began the season with 14 MLB teams on its Bally Sports channels, now has 12 MLB teams after terminating TV deals with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks over the summer. MLB then took over the broadcasts.
“Seven months—and the entire MLB 2023 regular season—later, the
Debtors are no closer to addressing this concern or deciding whether Diamond Sports Group will reorganize or liquidate. The Debtors have requested extensions of exclusivity twice and the Debtors continue to shed telecast arrangements with teams across multiple leagues on an ad hoc and unexpected basis. The Debtors and certain non-Debtor affiliates began these chapter 11 cases with telecast arrangements with 14 MLB Clubs. As of the filing of this Motion, this number is down to 12 and will almost certainly drop to 11 at the conclusion of the postseason,” the league states in its objection.
MLB says Diamond Sports should submit the reorganization plan now or enter liquidation which would enable the 12 MLB teams and the league to take back the TV rights and either find new broadcasting partners or do the games themselves. Says the league: “Because there is zero evidence that the Debtors (Diamond Sports) have any reorganization prospects or a viable go-forward business plan that provides for the continued telecast of the Clubs’ games per the terms of the Telecast Rights Agreements, MLB and the Clubs must formulate alternative plans to ensure the continued telecast of and access to their games for the 2024 season. Preparations for the telecast of a full baseball season require extensive planning and expenditures, and their success depends on the lead time provided. Those preparations have to take place now.”
The five teams that joined MLB in the objection are the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Guardians. Following MLB’s objection, Diamond Sports will now have to counter the league’s objection in a new filing with the bankruptcy court, assuming it still wants the extension.
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— Phillip Swann