Diamond Sports, the parent company of Bally Sports Regional Networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, but said in a statement that its 19 regional sports channels will continue to operate without a hitch. Here’s what you need to know:
- Sinclair, Diamond’s parent company, has fallen under more than $8 billion in debt from its 2019 acquisition of RSN, an off-kilter deal that came about the same time as cord cutting began.
- Fears swept across the leagues, particularly MLB, that the Diamonds would let go of the 14 teams that Paley holds. This does not seem to be happening.
- The pre-packaged bankruptcy, which is still being negotiated with creditors, is expected to reduce Diamond’s debt by $8 billion and separate the company from Sinclair Broadcasting.
Diamond Sports Group will “continue to broadcast games and connect fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond CEO David Breshlak said in a statement. “With the support of our creditors, we expect to implement a swift and effective reorganization and emerge from the restructuring process as a stronger company.”
Many expected Diamond to get rid of some RSNs that weren’t economical, and that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. However, the Arizona Diamond’s affiliate, Diamond Sports Net, has filed for Chapter 11. It’s unclear what that means for the Arizona Diamondbacks, which were the only team not paid on time last week. All RSNs must file individually but it’s possible they haven’t completed their paperwork, said Schiller Carroll, a bankruptcy attorney.
According to Diamond Chapter 11, AZPB, the Diamondbacks’ parent company, is the sports media company’s fourth-largest creditor at $30.8 million. No other team is listed. College sports media company Raycom Sports Network is listed as owing $8.5 million.
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According to a Chapter 11 Diamond filing, there is a four-person “conflict committee” that helps run the company through Chapter 11: Breshlak, former NFL COO Marian Turk, former Fox Sports executive Randy Freer and former Vulcan Sports executive. Robert Whitsett.
Diamond Sports and AZPB’s petitions list both assets and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion. The cases are filed in the bankruptcy court for the Southern District of Texas.
Diamond’s 19 owned and operated RSN networks include Bally Sports Arizona, Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Florida, Bally Sports Great Lakes, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports Kansas City, Bally Sports Midwest, Bally Sports New Orleans, Bally Sports North, and Bally Sports Ohio , Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports South East, Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports West, and Bally Sports Wisconsin. Bally Sports RSNs has broadcast 42 NBA, NHL and MLB teams.
Major League Baseball issued a statement Tuesday night saying “all expectations are that (Diamond) will continue to broadcast all of the games they committed to through the bankruptcy process” and that the league “is ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any sports network cannot other regional organizations from doing so as required by their agreement with our clubs.”
The league statement continued, “Having broadcast live games on MLB.TV for over 20 years and produced live games for MLB Network since 2009, we have the experience and capabilities to bring games to fans without interruption.” In addition, we have hired local media-savvy professionals to enhance our capabilities in anticipation of this development. In the long term, we will reimagine our distribution model to deal with the changing media climate and ultimately reach more fans.”
(Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)
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