The Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins appear to be the latest Major League Baseball teams forsaken by Bally Sports, as the bankrupt regional sports network owner restructures and seeks to walk away from its most unprofitable TV contracts with pro sports teams.
According to Cleveland.com, Diamond Sports Group, the subsidiary set up by broadcast giant Sinclair to manage its Bally Sports channels, missed a due date on Saturday for first rights payment covering the just-started 2023 MLB season.
Sports Business Journal similarly reports that Diamond missed its payment for the Minnesota Twins.
In the case of Cleveland, Diamond has a 10-day grace period from that April 1 due date to make the payment. But as the subsidiary seeks to wipe out around $8 billion of debt through bankruptcy restructuring, it’s expected that both the Guardians and Twins will be among several MLB teams that Diamond cuts ties with.
In fact, unnamed Cleveland.com sources “close to the situation” said a payment from Diamond to the Guardians is “unlikely.” The site reports that the team has a deal with Sinclair/Diamond through the 2027 season paying the club around $50 million a year.
MLB has said it will step in and help clubs forsaken by Bally Sports get their games on TV this season.
“No matter what, we’re confident our games will be on TV in some manner,” Curtis Danburg, Guardians VP of communications, said in a statement. “We don’t expect any disruption to our fans being able to watch the games on TV.”
Last month, Diamond similarly failed to pay the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time, the Guardians, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres were listed as the other MLB teams on which Diamond was losing significant money.
However, the Padres reportedly received their check. It’s unclear as to what the Reds’ state of play is regarding Bally Sports and Diamond.
Bally Sports Ohio carries both the Guardians and Reds on separate sub-feeds.
Of the 19 Bally Sports channels, 14 have contracts with MLB teams. In all, 52 pro sports teams fall under the Bally Sports RSN umbrella. It’s unclear at this point which NBA and NHL teams might also be similarly impacted.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!