MLB can offer free streaming if it takes TV rights from Bally Sports
UPDATED: MARCH 13, 2023 AT 1:04 PM
Major League Baseball will aim for fans to stream games for free if Diamond Sports Group, which operates Bally Sports’ regional television stations, loses the rights to broadcast, according to the New York Post.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are among the four or more teams Diamond could lose as it is expected to file for bankruptcy by Friday. These teams take in more in rights fees than Diamond earns from cable contracts and advertising.
The teams in red include the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, according to one of the sources. Currently, Diamond stands to lose $20 million annually on San Diego alone, the source added.
MLB plans to stream some teams’ games for free within their local markets until cable companies renegotiate contracts with the league, according to the Post. Through which medium the games will stream has not yet been decided.
Even if MLB makes deals with cable providers, it will still offer the over-the-top service for about $15 a month, the source added.
The Post reports that MLB attempted to acquire the rights to the 14 baseball markets of Bally’s 19 regional television networks, but Diamond declined the offer.
It was reported Friday that the D-backs are the only team that has not been paid the rights fee from Diamond on time.
“We have made our rights payments to teams with the exception of the Diamondbacks, where we have exercised a contractual grace period to maximize flexibility, especially given that we do not have DTC rights,” Diamond confirmed to Sports Business Journal. “We continue to broadcast games and conduct our business as usual.”
Diamond has not paid the D-backs because there is a grace period that ends at midnight this Thursday. The agreement between the company and Arizona is extremely team-friendly compared to other clubs. It runs through 2035, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
If Diamond doesn’t pay the Diamondbacks by next week, it’s not expected to affect Valley fans watching games immediately, according to Ourand. MLB would begin fighting to take on the rights through bankruptcy court if that happened.
During that time, Ourand’s sources indicate that Bally Sports Arizona will continue to produce the games for television so they can continue to be paid by cable and satellite distributors.
Bally Sports Arizona is expected to continue broadcasting Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes games until the end of the teams’ regular seasons next month, according to the Post.