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Comcast turns down offer to extend Diamond Sports carriage deal

The situation means Comcast's Xfinity TV subscribers are likely to lose access to their local Bally Sports channel in the near future.

The situation means Comcast's Xfinity TV subscribers are likely to lose access to their local Bally Sports channel in the near future.

The coverage map of Sinclair's regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)
The coverage map of Sinclair’s regional sports channels Bally Sports. (Image courtesy Sinclair Broadcast Group, Graphic by The Desk)

Sinclair, Inc’s regional sports broadcaster Diamond Sports Group was unable to secure an extension of its carriage agreement this week, a spokesperson said in a statement to The Desk on Tuesday.

The lack of an extension means dozens of Bally Sports-branded channels owned by Diamond Sports are likely to disappear from Comcast’s Xfinity TV systems within the next day or two as the pay TV provider’s contract to carry the channels expires.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Diamond Sports Group said they were “disappointed that Comcast rejected a proposed extension that would have kept our channels on the air,” and said Comcast “indicated that it intends to pull the signals, preventing fans from watching their favorite local teams.”

“Comcast has refused to engage in substantive discussions despite Diamond offering terms similar to those reached with much larger distributors of ours,” the spokesperson affirmed. “We are a fans-first company, and we will continue to seek an agreement with Comcast to restore broadcasts — and, at this critical juncture for Diamond, we hope that Comcast will recognize the important and mutually beneficial role Diamond and [regional sports networks] play in the media ecosystem.”

The specifics of Diamond Sports Group’s discussions with Comcast were not readily available as of Tuesday evening, but a spokesperson for Comcast said Diamond Sports “declined multiple offers” that would have kept the channels on Xfinity TV systems across the country.

“We have been very flexible with Diamond Sports Group for months as they work through their bankruptcy proceedings, providing them with an extension on the Bally Sports Regional Networks last fall and a unilateral right to extend the term for another year, which they opted to not exercise,” the Comcast spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Comcast is one of the first companies to not renew its distribution agreement with Diamond Sports since the start of the programmer’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case early last year. Over the past several weeks, Diamond Sports has reached renewal deals with Cox Cable, Charter’s Spectrum TV and DirecTV to keep its channels on those pay television systems.

Comcast customers who want access to their local Bally Sports channel can sign up for Bally Sports Plus in most areas. The service costs $20 per month or $190 for a full year of service, and offers access to the same live games aired in a local area, plus sports-related programming.

Other options to receive Bally Sports channels are Fubo and DirecTV Stream.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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