Diamond Sports, parent of Bally Sports Regional Networks, files for bankruptcy protection

Diamond Sports, parent of Bally Sports Regional Networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday but said in a statement that its 19 regional sports channels would continue to operate unhindered. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Diamond’s own parent, Sinclair, was reeling under more than $8 billion in debt from its 2019 acquisition of RSN, an ill-timed deal that came just as cord-cutting took hold.
  • Fears have swept leagues, especially MLB, that its 14 teams carried by Bally would be abandoned by Diamond. That doesn’t seem to be happening.
  • The packaged bankruptcy, which is still being negotiated with creditors, is expected to reduce Diamond’s debt by $8 billion and separate the company from Sinclair Broadcasting.

Back story

Diamond Sports Group “will continue to broadcast games and connect fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. “With the support of our creditors, we expect to complete a quick and efficient reorganization and to emerge from the restructuring process as a stronger company.”

Many had expected Diamond to dump certain RSNs that weren’t as economical, and for now that doesn’t seem to be the case. However, the Diamonds’ Arizona affiliate, Diamond Sports Net Arizona, filed its own Chapter 11. It’s unclear what that means for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who were the team not paid on time last week. Schyuler Carroll, a bankruptcy attorney, said all RSNs had to file individually but likely hadn’t completed their paperwork

According to Diamond Chapter 11, AZPB, the Diamondbacks’ parent company, 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 owing $8.5 million.


RSN Armageddon? What fans can expect as probable Bally Sports bankruptcy looms

According to Diamond’s Chapter 11 filing, there is a four-person “conflict committee” helping to run the company under Chapter 11: Preschlack, former NFL executive Maryann Turcke, former Fox Sports executive Randy Freer and former Vulcan Sports executive Robert Whitsitt .

Diamond Sports and AZPB’s petitions each list 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 to televise 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 experienced local media professionals to strengthen our capacity in anticipation of these developments. In the long term, we will re-engineer our distribution model to address the changing media climate and ultimately reach an even greater number of fans.”

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(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)

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