Yesterday, The New York Post reported that a deal had been reached between Comcast and DIRECTV to extend Bally Sports’ contracts with the pay-TV providers. Cord Cutters News has since independently confirmed the news.
Despite the contract extension, Bally Sports’ future is still in jeopardy and the company might not survive bankruptcy, according to the Post, which cited multiple sources. In addition, networks and leagues are preparing backup plans to ensure Bally Sports continues to operate in the event that the deals don’t close.
“We will continue to deliver these channels under our existing agreement, and will work with Bally’s and the MLB, NBA and NHL to ensure fans who want to watch will be able to do so,” a DIRECTV spokesperson said in an email to Cord Cutters News.
Bally Sports’ parent company, Diamond Sports Group, is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings and must lock down some major deals to ensure its future before the court-ordered deadline of September 30 — tomorrow. Its contracts with both DIRECTV and Comcast are coming up for renewal. The channel’s deal with Spectrum ends in February 2024.
The New York Post cited multiple sources that say Bally Sports will shut down next year after it makes some more money from its profitable contracts. This is possible if NBA and NHL teams take up to a 20% cut in TV rights fees. The teams are reportedly open to doing this if it means securing another year on the network. Bally Sports reportedly needs to start making payments to some teams as soon as Sunday.
Bally Sports must pay 14 NBA teams to keep their TV rights. These payments are expected to happen on October 1 or November 1, 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, though that is reportedly to be paid in installments over the season. (It is being reported that the Pelicans have already been paid, leaving 14 teams left.)
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.
The sports channel might drop some of the more unprofitable teams if a deal isn’t reached.
Luke Bouma contributed to this story.