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 the network needs to reach a deal with Comcast and DIRECTV or it may be dropped by both in the next few weeks. Also, in February 2024 Spectrums’ contract with Bally Sports will end.
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, according to Sports Business Journal, Comcast’s contract with Bally Sports ends later this week. DIRECTV’s contract with Bally Sports will be ending in October. It has been reported that talks are underway for an extension with Comcast, but no deal has been reached.
Back in August 2023, DIRECTV made a filing to the judge overseeing the bankruptcy of Bally Sports’ parent company, Diamond Sports in response to a requested delay in a go-forward business plan. In that filing, DIRECTV announced its contract with Bally Sports ended this year and that it is looking to pay less going forward as Bally Sports has lost several MLB teams recently.
In the filing, DIRECTV is asking Bally Sports for an “immediate rate relief” of what it is paying now that Bally Sports no longer carries the Padrees and the Diamondbacks. In short, DIRECTV has made it clear they will not pay more for Bally Sports and wants to reduce what they are already paying. DIRECTV is arguing that since Bally Sports lost several MLB teams, DIRECTV should not be paying the same amount they did when these teams aired on Bally Sports.
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, 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 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.
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. The question is, what do they do if DIRECTV and Comcast drop the networks but Bally Sports pays them?