The U.S. bankruptcy court in Houston overseeing the restructuring of Diamond Sports Group on Friday approved the Sinclair subsidiary’s mediated agreements with the Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Guardians to keep the Major League Baseball clubs’ local TV rights on Diamond’s Bally Sports regional channels through the 2024 season.
But as Diamond and its new backer, Amazon, seek to carve out a future in live local sports linear telecasts and streaming beyond September 29, when baseball's regular season ends, MLB is trying to send a message: It has the leverage.
During Friday’s bankruptcy court hearing, covered by Penske trade Sportico, MLB lawyer James Bromley initially struck an uncharacteristically genial tone. “The relationship between Diamond Sports and Major League Baseball has not been the best, to say the least,” he said. “And so it is gratifying that we find ourselves here, after a lot of hard work, looking to put in place the pillars that will allow the 2024 season to be broadcast and hopefully allow the debtors to reorganize.”
That congeniality ebbed quickly, however, when Bromley warned his opposition, “Unless there’s baseball to be broadcast by Diamond Sports, there’s no Diamond Sports.”
Bromley's comments came just a day after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told team owners of his plans to launch a league-owned DTC streaming service focused on local team telecast rights in time for the 2025 MLB season.
Amazon has invested $115 million to help prop up Diamond Sports, largely in hopes of reselling DTC streaming of Bally Sports-affiliated teams through Amazon Prime Video Channels.
Diamond, meanwhile, has avoided, at least in the short term, liquidation, getting its NBA, NHL and MLB team partners to reduce their contracted rights fees in exchange for having their local TV rights returned after the 2024 seasons.