Diamond Sports, parent of Bally Sports Regional Networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, but said in a statement its 19 regional sports channels would continue to operate unimpeded. Here’s what you need to know:
- Diamond’s own parent, Sinclair, staggered under more than $8 billion of debt from its 2019 acquisition of the RSN, an unpropitiously timed deal that came just as cord-cutting took hold.
- Fears have swept leagues, particularly MLB, that its 14 teams carried by Bally would be abandoned by Diamond. That does not appear to be happening.
- The prepackaged bankruptcy, which is still being negotiated with creditors, is expected to reduce Diamond’s debt by $8 billion and sever the company from Sinclair Broadcasting.
Diamond Sports Group “will continue broadcasting games and connecting fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” David Preschlack, CEO of Diamond, said in a statement. “With the support of our creditors, we expect to execute a prompt and efficient reorganization and to emerge from the restructuring process as a stronger company.”
Many had expected Diamond to dump certain RSNs that were not as economical, and for now that does not appear to be the case. However, Diamond’s Arizona affiliate, Diamond Sports Net Arizona, filed its own Chapter 11. It’s unclear what that means for the Arizona Diamondbacks, which was the one team not paid on time last week. Schyuler Carroll, a bankruptcy attorney, said all the RSNs should individually file but had likely not completed their paperwork
According to the Diamond Chapter 11, AZPB, the Diamondbacks parent, is the sports media company’s fourth largest creditor at $30.8 million. No other team is listed. College sports media company Raycom Sports Network is listed as owed $8.5 million.
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According to the Diamond Chapter 11 filing, there is a four-person “conflicts committee” helping to run the company during the Chapter 11: Preschlack, former NFL chief operating officer Maryann Turcke, former Fox Sports executive Randy Freer and former Vulcan Sports executive Robert Whitsitt.
Diamond Sports and AZPB’s petitions each lists assets and liabilities of between $1 billion and $10 billion. The cases are filed in the southern district of Texas bankruptcy court.
Diamond’s 19 owned-and-operated RSNs include Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Great Lakes, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports North, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports West and Bally Sports Wisconsin. The Bally Sports RSNs broadcast 42 NBA, NHL and MLB teams.
Major League Baseball issued a statement Tuesday night saying there is “every expectation that (Diamond) will continue televising all games they are committed to during the bankruptcy process” and that the league is “ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any other regional sports network is unable to do so as required by their agreement with our Clubs.”
“Having streamed live games on MLB.TV for more than 20 years and produced live games for MLB Network since 2009, we have the experience and capabilities to deliver games to fans uninterrupted,” the league’s statement continued. “In addition, we have hired additional seasoned local media professionals to bolster our capabilities in anticipation of this development. Over the long term, we will reimagine our distribution model to address the changing media climate and ultimately reach an even larger number of fans.”
(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)