For a few weeks now, we have been hearing about how regional sports networks (RSNs) are struggling. Bally Sports is about to declare bankruptcy, AT&T SportsNets failed to make full payment earlier this year and will soon be shutting down its AT&T RSNs.
Now according to Scripps executive Brian Lawlor Bally Sports may also soon be shutting down.
“In the last two weeks, some of the leagues are suddenly in contingency mode trying to figure out what happens if Bally stiffs them – and stops production in the next month. So we’ve had quite a few conversations with the leagues and the teams, just helping them identify where we can be a solution for them.” Brian Lawlor told Front Office Sports.
Scripps is hoping to become the new home for these teams who are losing AT&T SportsNets RSN and for teams that may be affected if Bally Sports shutdown.
It is reported that Bally Sports owes MLB teams bout $1 billion. A number that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed. If Bally Sports follows through on its bankruptcy plans, that could put payments to MLB, NBA, and NHL teams at risk.
The NBA’s new streaming deal with Diamond Sports, the parent company behind Bally Sports, allows the NBA to take back its rights if Diamond Sports declares bankruptcy, according to Sports Business Journal. This would mean 16 NBA teams could start streaming their games in-market or resell the rights to a different company.
Both the NHL and MLB have announced that they have plans if Diamond Sports is unable to complete their contract to make sure fans can watch NHL and MLB games.
Multiple sources have said that the NBA, NHL, and MLB all hope to not only stream games in market but find a new partner to offer their games in markets that RSNs currently support. Scripps is hoping to be in consideration for some or all of these local markets using its network of channels, including Ion Television.
Bally Sports is reportedly trying to work out deals with creditors to avoid bankruptcy. Reuters have reported that they only have a few weeks left to reach a deal before they need to declare bankruptcy.