On December 15, 2023, Bally Sports will have a critical hearing related to the future of MLB on its networks.
Bally Sports offered MLB slightly lower pay for the 2024 season in exchange for all TV rights being returned to MLB at the end of the season. MLB rejected the offer and demanded full payment or the TV rights would be immediately returned to the MLB ahead of the 2024 season.
In 2023, Bally Sports has already dropped multiple MLB teams. Will they have any MLB teams in 2024?
Next week’s hearing will be a major part of deciding what will happen to MLB teams going forward.
The MLB teams that Bally Sports currently has contracts with are the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Cleveland Guardians, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers.
Where will these teams go if Bally Sports shuts down?
Free over-the-air TV is reportedly about to be the new home for many of these teams. Scripps has reached deals with several teams to air games free on broadcast TV if Bally Sports drops them. It has also been reported that other networks like Gray have done the same. This will likely see many teams move to free over-the-air TV networks for in-market games.
The other option is streaming. Amazon and Disney have both reportedly started talks about streaming games online in the affected markets.
ESPN has also had talks with MLB to air games in markets both on TV and streaming likely through ESPN+ if Bally Sports goes under. Exactly how that would work for broadcasts on TV just for in-market games is unknown.
Which teams would end up on free over-the-air TV and which teams would move to streaming is also not known right now. What we do know is MLB and teams have been busy making deals to be ready if there is a need.
Other issues to be addressed at this hearing include DIRECTV’s request to reduce its payments to Bally Sports because of the lost channels and sporting events. Also, Sinclair is asking the Judge to force Bally Sports to pay them for their management or terminate their contract with Bally Sports.
Correction: We updated this story to remove the Twins from the list of teams with TV contracts with Bally Sports.