Officials with Major League Baseball (MLB) have told a federal court overseeing the bankruptcy case involving Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Diamond Sports that the professional sports league is prepared to take over the broadcast production and distribution of games played by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In a notice filed with the court this week, MLB said it is negotiating with pay television providers, including satellite and streaming service DirecTV, to distribute Diamondbacks games in their local market, and was likely not going to object to a request by Diamond Sports to back out of their contractual agreement to produce and distribute games on their Bally Sports network.
Diamond Sports filed an emergency motion with the federal court in June, asking a judge to nullify its contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The motion argued that the contract no longer made financial sense to Diamond Sports. Before a judge could rule on the issue, Diamond Sports and the Diamondbacks asked to postpone the matter.
The Diamondbacks are listed among one of Diamond Sports’ largest creditors, with more than $30 million owed in rights and other business-related fees. Diamond Sports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, and documents submitted to the bankruptcy court revealed the precise amount it owes to the Diamondbacks and other business ventures.
In a separate filing this week, DirecTV asked the bankruptcy court to reduce retransmission consent fees owed to Diamond Sports for the continued carriage of its Bally Sports channel focused on Arizona if MLB takes over the rights to the Diamondbacks games. The satellite and streaming company argued the channels would not be worth as much without the pro-baseball games, and is seeking an adjustment of fees accordingly.
Diamond Sports operates nearly two dozen Bally Sports-branded networks, including Bally Sports Arizona, which are distributed on DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse.