TV Answer Man, I am confused about the Bally Sports situation? Will they carry the (Atlanta) Braves in 2024 or not? And will they be around after that or are they going out of business? — Cindy, Decatur, Georgia.
What Was Diamond Sports’ Bankruptcy Plan?
Cindy, Diamond Sports, which owns the Bally Sports regional sports networks, declared bankruptcy last March, saying it wants to reorganize. In layman’s terms, that means that Diamond Sports said it wants to jettison unprofitable assets, such as certain team broadcast agreements, and possibly renegotiate profitable ones to make them more profitable. Since then, the RSN company has terminated deals with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks and allowed a few others to expire.
Why Hasn’t the Diamond Sports Plan Worked?
However, the path to profitability has not been a smooth one with a flurry of lawsuits filed by and against Diamond Sports and a resistance by the teams and leagues to renegotiate their deals. Consequently, it looks now like Diamond Sports could be heading for liquidation sometime in 2024, meaning it would sell off assets to satisfy its creditors. The company has alerted MLB and the NBA that it plans to stop broadcasting their teams’ games after the 2024 and 2023-24 season respectively. It seems unlikely that Diamond Sports plans to be around after 2024.
Could Bally Sports Survive After 2024?
However, as is frequently the case with Diamond Sports, there is a scenario where the company could still survive even when the situation looks darkest. Sinclair Broadcasting, which owned and operated the Bally Sports RSNs before spinning them off as a separate unit last March, may be interested in reacquiring the company, according to the New York Post.
In addition, while Diamond Sports may be planning to exit the MLB and NBA (and probably the NHL) contracts sometime in 2024, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t still bid on their rights after the contracts end. The leagues have learned the hard way that the RSNs may still be the best way to generate revenue for their TV rights. (The San Diego Padres and Minnesota Twins have already signaled that 2024 payroll cuts are likely in part due to losing the Diamond Sports deals.) They could entertain new bids from a fortified Sinclair-owned RSN company.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Bottom line: It would appear that the Bally Sports channels will continue broadcasting in 2024, although it’s possible that the company could exit more contracts in the coming months. After that, however, the odds now are that Diamond Sports/Bally Sports will liquidate, leaving teams to seek new TV rights deals.
Cindy, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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