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Saturday, February 24, 2024
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MLB Nears Broadcast Deal That Would Secure Revenue for Teams

  • Larger questions remain about DSG’s long-term viability.
  • League and Bally Sports’ parent company say they are working on a short-term agreement.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball and the bankrupt regional sports network operator Diamond Sports Group are nearing a deal for 2024 game broadcasts that will provide near-term certainty on a critical revenue stream for as many as 11 teams.

The league had been pressing for months to get an answer on DSG’s plans, particularly which teams it intends to keep showing next season. But during a bankruptcy court hearing on Friday in Texas, lawyers for both sides said a settlement is in development that would answer that question. 

“We are in position to believe that we have a framework to move forward,” said James Bromley, an MLB lawyer. “We have a lot of conditions and issues that we still need to work through.”

It is not yet known what terms the potential settlement includes, or how many of the 11 teams would be involved. But DSG and its Bally Sports are currently under contract with the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers. The company’s term with the Minnesota Twins concluded with the end of the 2023 season.

Much to Be Resolved

The ongoing lack of clarity regarding DSG’s MLB plans for next year has impacted many of the involved teams, including their budgets and roster development for 2024. The negotiations between MLB and DSG are further complicated by the sometimes-differing goals and priorities among the involved teams, with some teams looking to reclaim their local rights and others preferring to keep the status quo with Bally Sports in place as long as possible.

“There is not a deal until there’s a deal, and there’s also not necessarily a common set of issues,” said Charles Koster, Rangers attorney.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10. Even if there is an agreement struck for 2024 MLB broadcasts, DSG still has longer-term concerns, and the company’s parent, Sinclair Inc., has said that the chances of a DSG liquidation next year are growing. The developing baseball deal is also entangled with a parallel one that DSG holds with the NBA, and another in development with the NHL.

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