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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

DSG Looks To Shed Even More Team Rights

  • New court filing by bankrupt company suggests return of MLB team rights
  • Reorganization efforts involving aggressive recalibration of programming, costs
Bally Sports

The bankrupt Diamond Sports Group began the week with a dramatic deal with the NBA to return all its team rights to the league at the end of the 2023-24 season. 

Now, similar efforts could be developing with the NHL and MLB, too.

The Bally Sports parent company’s proposed cooperation agreement with its lenders — an important step in Chapter 11 reorganization efforts — anticipates a similar deal with the NHL, and the company said it’s working on a modified set of rights agreements.

DSG’s latest filing with a U.S. bankruptcy court in Texas, however, suggests perhaps the most dramatic step yet in its programming recalibration: a potential loss of all its MLB rights after the 2024 season. 

As MLB has pressed for answers on DSG’s 2024 plans and stands ready to handle production and distribution for as many as 16 teams, DSG said final resolution on that topic will arrive by the end of the year — with perhaps more dramatic steps for 2025.

“These actions give MLB and its clubs the clarity they demand in their objection concerning the future treatment of their telecast rights agreements and give them time to transition to another broadcast partner before the start of the 2025 MLB season,” DSG said in its filing.

DSG’s problems are also causing increasing issues around MLB team payrolls.

Seismic Shifts

If DSG parts with all NHL and MLB team rights as with those of the NBA, the company would then be forced to start over and rebuild its RSN business essentially from scratch. Such a move, however, would permit DSG to do that on entirely different economic terms, reflecting a more current market reality defined by cord-cutting.

“Since well before the commencement of these Chapter 11 cases, the debtors have made every effort to position themselves for the next phase of sports media distribution,” DSG said.

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