The dominoes from Diamond Sports Group’s bankruptcy filing are starting to hit hard.
The owner of 14 MLB teams’ broadcasting rights (plus 16 NBA teams, 12 NHL teams and four WNBA teams) will lose the rights to the San Diego Padres after missing the deadline to make its fee payment to the team, according to Sports Business Journal.
Due to the missed payment, the Padres’ broadcasting rights will revert back to the club, and MLB will directly take over the San Diego broadcasts, as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league would do in February.
The development reportedly won’t mean a huge upheaval for fans — at least not in the short term. The MLB-produced broadcast will use the same announcers, who were already team employees, and many of the same producers, directors and camera operators. MLB will also reportedly stream the games for free through Sunday while making them available through outlets such as Fubo, DirecTV, Cox and Charter.
The development will end a 20-year, $1.2 billion deal for Bally Sports San Diego that was set to run through 2032. The deal was reportedly a money-loser for Diamond, which said in a statement to SBJ that it still has the cash to pay the deal, but MLB’s refusal to budge on streaming rights forced their hand:
“While DSG has significant liquidity and have been making rights payments to teams, the economics of the Padres’ contract were not aligned with market realities. MLB has forced our hand by its continued refusal to negotiate direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming rights for all teams in our portfolio despite our proposal to pay every team in full in exchange for those rights. We are continuing to broadcast games for teams under our contracts.”
The potential loss of the cable rights income is an issue MLB has been facing for years, as cord-cutters increasingly bite into the bottom line of a vital part of the league’s business. There are many long-term routes Manfred & Co. could take from here, but the immediate question is how many other teams’ broadcasts will the league have to handle?
Will other MLB teams see their broadcasts dropped?
There could be other teams in the Padres’ boat very soon, though the situation in San Diego was apparently a little different since the club has an ownership stake in Bally Sports San Diego.
Diamond Sports Group is reportedly awaiting a decision Wednesday from a bankruptcy judge over whether it can reduce its rights payments to other teams while in bankruptcy. Diamond is also reportedly willing to pay its full rights fees to teams in exchange for access to streaming rights.
In addition to the Padres, the following teams have games broadcasted by a Bally network: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.