This Friday, December 15, 2023, is an important day for Bally Sports, as a judge will hear arguments about the future of the embattled regional spots network. One of these issues is the MLB’s request to be paid in full by Bally Sports or terminate their TV contract.
MLB said in a filing submitted on Wednesday that it believes Bally Sports will shut its business down at the end of the 2024 MLB season. Because of that belief, MLB argued that the channel doesn’t need extra time to prepare and present its plan to get out of bankruptcy.
“The clear intention of the Debtors to wind down in less than a calendar year is reason to compel the Debtors to assume or reject the Telecast Rights Agreements now,” it said.
A Bally Sports spokeswoman declined to comment on the filing.
In the filing, the MLB pushed the judge to force Bally Sports to pay or cancel its TV contract. “The Debtors brush off the uncertainty created by the lack of progress in these cases by emphasizing the news they have to report since the filing of the Motion—news that allegedly moots the need for the Debtors to assume or reject the Telecast Rights Agreements at this time. What is the news? That the Debtors will wind down their business no later than the conclusion of the 2024 MLB season,” it said.
The sentiment echos what David Selign, outside counsel for Sinclair, said after Bally’s last major bankruptcy court hearing in November.
“To Sinclair folks who originally acquired Diamond, they’re kind of bummed, they’re bummed that this business that they put in a billion and a half of equity value in, is now going to be shut down,” David Selign, Sinclair’s outside counsel, said during the hearing, according to a report from Awful Announcing. “There’s going to be people losing their jobs…Diamond’s business is going to go away.”
Even with Bally Sports’ newly approved contract with the NBA through the 2023-2024 season, things may come to an end early. Per their agreement, if Bally Sports fails to reach a deal with Spectrum in February, the NBA can walk away from its TV contract.
Bally Sports has not announced plans to shut down in 2024. People familiar with the matter have told Cord Cutters News that Bally Sports still sees a path forward to exit bankruptcy without shutting down. A lot can change between now and the end of the 2024 MLB season. A sale, new contracts, or new funding could all result in Bally Sports remaining active.
Sinclair is owed millions by Bally Sports’ parent company, Diamond Sports Group, for management fees. Diamond Sports is suing Sinclair, alleging it spent money that should have been given to it, but instead was used it to refund investors. Diamond’s lawyers, during the court hearing in November, objected to the idea it would be shutting down, according to people familiar with the hearing. Instead, they made it clear that it could be the start of a path for Bally Sports to exit bankruptcy.
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 NHL teams that Bally Sports currently has contacts with are the 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 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.