With the Bally Sports in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings and just day away from needing to present a plan to reorganize itself, the regional sports network may break from the MLB in an effort to save the overall business.
That’s according to Sportico, which cited “a few people who are tangentially plugged into the discussions” with Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of Bally Sports.
Nixing a deal with the MLB would relieve the company of having to pay $800 million in rights fees next year, according to the report, which noted that the defection of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks may have served as a catalyst.
Bally Sports is in a dire situation, facing both a court-ordered deadline and deals with various sports leagues that still need hammering out. While Comcast and DirecTV are extending a current contract for the time being, that deal will also need to be renegotiated. It’s the latest RSN to flame out, with Warner Bros. Discovery set to shut down AT&T SportsNet and several teams switching back to over-the-air broadcast stations and their own streaming services.
Breaking from MLB would allow Diamond to unload a few local RSNs just focus on baseball teams, with Sportico speculating that the league itself could pick up at a discount.
But the report notes that a split would mean losing 1,600 live telecasts per year, which represents a massive programming hole to fill for those networks. Losing those leagues also might be the last straw for some audiences, with many already opting to choose cable packages without an RSN.
Diamond appears eager to re-up with the NBA and NHL, which will be critical if it wants to see its reorganization plans approved as it works to get out of bankruptcy and a mountain of debt.
A spokeswoman for Diamond declined to comment. The MLB wasn’t immediately available to address the report.