Bally Sports’ parent company, Diamond Sports Group, is in a tough fight for survival. The company, stuck in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, needs to strike some major deals and create a go-forward plan by court-ordered deadlines. Now it needs to make payments to 14 NBA teams or risk losing TV rights to these teams.
Back in August, the regional sports network has asked the judge overseeing the case to appoint mediators as it tries to negotiate TV contracts with DIRECTV, Comcast, Spectrum, NBA, NHL, and its debtors. This comes from a report by Front Office Sports that says negotiations are underway with all of these parties.
Now, the Sports Business Journal is reporting that Bally Sports must pay 14 NBA teams to keep their rights. These payments are expected to happen on October 1st or November 1st, 2023. According to the report, the average fee owed to each team is about $40 million. If Bally Sports wants to keep all of the teams, it will have to pay about $560 million. (It is being reported that the Pelicans have already been paid, leaving 14 teams still to be paid.)
This is very similar to what we just went through with MLB teams, which resulted in two teams dropping their TV deals with Bally Sports. Adding pressure to the negotiations are the fact that both the NBA and NHL seasons are set to start in October.
Bally Sports also has contracts coming up with major cable TV providers, including DIRECTV, Comcast, and Spectrum. If deals here are not reached, Bally Sports may be extremely hard to find on TV. DIRECTV has already made it clear that they want a discount on Bally Sports as it no longer has as many teams. Now it looks like even more teams may leave if deals with the NBA and NHL can not be reached.
The NBA teams Bally Sports currently has contracts with are the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs. Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. (The Pelicans have reportedly already been paid.)
The NHL teams that Bally Sports currently has contacts with are the Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Los Angeles Kings.
Bally Sports will likely pay to keep most, if not all, of the teams. However, Bally Sports is likely hoping to reach a deal to reduce their payments to unprofitable teams, or explore dropping them altogether.
Both the NBA and NHL have said there are plans in place to ensure NBA games are available to fans if Bally Sports fails to make a payment.
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens. Much like with the MLB, both sides would like to reach a deal. But will they be able to do so?