Major League Baseball will take over broadcasts of Arizona Diamondbacks games after a federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday granted a motion for Diamond Sports to reject its rights agreement.
MLB will take over production of the broadcasts beginning with Tuesday’s game at Atlanta. The Diamondbacks are the second team where MLB has had to step in to deliver the games.
MLB took over the broadcasts of San Diego Padres games May 31 after Diamond Sports missed a rights fees payment and let the grace period expire. MLB set up a local media department during the offseason to prepare for a bankruptcy filing by Diamond Sports, which took place in March.
Diamond Sports, which owns 19 regional sports networks under the Bally Sports banner, determined its contract with the Diamondbacks was not profitable. It had a large rights payment due on July 1, but both sides tried to negotiate an amended agreement.
Diamond paid the Diamondbacks on a per-game basis for any games played after July 1.
Diamond Sports has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in Texas since March. The company said in a financial filing last fall that it had debt of $8.67 billion.
Fans in the Diamondbacks’ home television market will be able to watch games on DirecTV, Cox, Spectrum, AT&T U-Verse and fubo. MLB will also offer a direct-to-consumer streaming subscription through MLB.TV.
The Diamondbacks signed a 20-year, $1.5 billion contract with Fox Sports Networks in 2015. Diamond Sports Group and Sinclair Broadcast Group bought the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Co. for nearly $10 billion in 2019. Disney was required by the Department of Justice to sell the networks for its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets to be approved.
Diamond Sports said in last week’s filing that it loses significant amounts of money under the agreement with the Diamondbacks and that the deal “no longer fits” within its long-term plans.
The Diamondbacks are a part owner of Bally Sports Arizona. After years of struggling, the Diamondbacks are one of the surprise teams in baseball this season with a 52-42 record.
With the Diamondbacks off Bally Sports, Diamond has the rights to 38 professional teams – 12 baseball, 14 NBA and 12 NHL.
The Arizona Coyotes remain the only team on Bally Sports Arizona. The network did not exercise its right of first refusal to renew its deal with the Phoenix Suns, who are moving their games to local television and Kiswe, a streaming service.
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