A member of the Houston Astros stands in the dugout in front of the Bally Sports logo before the team’s spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 2, 2023 in Jupiter, Fla. Diamond Sports Group, the largest owner of the sports network in the region, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, March 14. The move comes after missing a $140 million interest payment last month. Diamond owns 19 networks under the Bally Sports banner. These networks own the rights to 42 professional teams — 14 in baseball, 16 in the NBA and 12 in the NHL. (AP Photo/Jeff Robertson, File)
Orlando Magic coach Jamal Mosley stands next to a Bally Sports ad during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons on February 23, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. Diamond Sports Group, the largest owner of Bally Sports and the regional sports network, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday, March 14. The move comes after missing a $140 million interest payment last month. Diamond owns 19 networks under the Bally Sports banner. These networks own the rights to 42 professional teams — 14 in baseball, 16 in the NBA and 12 in the NHL. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
Diamond Sports Group, the largest owner of regional sports networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday. The move comes after missing a $140 million interest payment last month.
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Diamond owns 19 networks under the Bally Sports banner. These networks own the rights to 42 professional teams — 14 in baseball, 16 in the NBA and 12 in the NHL.
The company said in a release Tuesday evening that it expects to continue operating during the bankruptcy proceedings and that coverage of the game should not be affected.
Diamond Sports also said it was negotiating a restructuring deal with debt holders that would eliminate most of its debt. It will become a separate company from Sinclair Broadcasting Group under an agreement with creditors.
“DSG will continue to broadcast games and connect fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. “We look forward to a constructive and collaborative process and beyond with our team and alliance partners and all DSG stakeholders throughout the process.”
Diamond said in a financial filing last fall that it had $8.67 billion in debt. The bankruptcy filing was filed in the Southern District of Texas.
Sinclair Broadcasting Group acquired the regional sports network from The Walt Disney Company in 2019 for nearly $10 billion. The Justice Department asked Disney to sell the network in order to approve its acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets.
Diamond has nearly $1 billion in royalties, mostly paid to baseball teams, that expire in the first quarter of this year. The company is currently paying hockey and basketball teams, but it may refuse to pay some stick teams trying to renegotiate better deals.
Major League Baseball has created a local media division in case it has to go beyond team broadcasts. Should this occur, the game will be broadcast locally via MLB Network or live on MLB.TV.
“Today’s announcement of bankruptcy by the Diamond Sports Group is the unfortunate development we have been expecting. Despite Diamond’s difficult financial situation, it is widely expected that they will continue to broadcast all the games they committed to during the bankruptcy process,” MLB said in a statement Tuesday night Indicated. “Longer term, we will reimagine our distribution model to address the changing media climate and ultimately reach more fans.”
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Diamond Sports isn’t the only company struggling financially with regional sports networks. Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns the three AT&T SportsNet networks, has given the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates until March 31 to reclaim their broadcast rights. WBD Sports is closing its investment in the network.
AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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