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MLB is stepping in to protect the finances of the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians.
The two AL Central organizations share a television deal with Bally Sports and the Diamond Sports Group.
The same company that declared bankruptcy just before the 2023 season started.
READ: BROADCASTING PARTNER DIAMOND SPORTS GROUP DECLARES BANKRUPTCY JUST BEFORE MLB SEASON
At the time, Diamond said that Bally would continue to broadcast games normally. Payments to teams however, were far more uncertain.
Now we have confirmation from a report by The Athletic that Diamond hasn’t made payments to three MLB teams.
The Guardians, Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t received anything this season, despite Bally continuing to broadcast Guardians and Twins games.
That’s where the league stepped in.
“MLB is seeking an order by April 13 that would force Diamond to either pay the Twins and Guardians, or terminate the contracts so the teams could take over the broadcasts,” according to The Athletic.
The motion filed by MLB claims that Diamond/Bally are raising revenue by broadcasting games. They’re just not sharing it with the teams.
“The Debtor RSNs made this decision even though they continue to use the Clubs’ valuable intellectual property every day. By continuing to broadcast Guardians and Twins games, they generate postpetition revenue, yet boldly refuse to pay the Clubs,” it reads.
MLB Filing Shows Precarious Position for Teams
The timing of the bankruptcy, just before the start of the season, put MLB and its teams in a tough situation.
Teams were told they’d have still be able to have games broadcast on the same local channels. But Diamond being unable to make payments was always a possibility.
MLB’s filing was a necessity, as many sports franchises rely on television revenue to pay the bills.
And in fact, that’s exactly what the league’s lawyers wrote in the motion.
“With the 2023 season underway, the Clubs are navigating a complicated and fragile situation without certainty in their ability to consistently provide games for the millions of fans who follow professional baseball through daily televised broadcasts.”
Several other teams could potentially join in, if they don’t receive payment from Diamond.
MLB’s deadline is rapidly approaching. If they win the motion, it could lead to a dramatic shift for local broadcasts during the middle of the season.
Could that mean blackout rules for some teams are significantly relaxed or removed entirely? We’ll find out soon enough.
One CommentLeave a Reply
This is a problem of the Indians and Twins business practices. They went for the most money and didn’t look at the stability of the Bally’s broadcast arm.
Bankruptcy should have provided protection for debt prior to the bankruptcy declaration. Debts going forward are treated normally. If the Broadcaster isn’t paying, that’s a simple breach. The teams should implement a different broadcast method as soon as the first payment was missed.
Buying the Bally’s section that broadcasts their teams should be the path.