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Monday, May 27, 2024

Rangers Next In Line As Diamond Faces Deadlines on MLB Rights Fees

  • Bankrupt parent of Bally Sports faces set of upcoming rights fee decisions
  • MLB poised to step in to produce, distribute teams' games
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers could be the next MLB team cut loose by the bankrupt Diamond Sports Group, accelerating the league’s reckoning with regional sports networks.

Diamond’s Bally Sports has until Thursday to decide whether it will pay the full rights fee due to the Rangers after a recent court ruling — or reject the rights, as it did in a similar case involving the San Diego Padres last month.

DSG, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, signaled in a new court filing that the question is decidedly unresolved: “The debtors are in the process of determining whether to assume or reject one or more of the agreements. Those decisions are complex and involve numerous factors.”

The company must also decide by July 1 whether to pay the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, and Minnesota Twins money promised in their respective broadcast agreements.

The Rangers decision, however, will speak volumes to DSG’s larger reorganization plans, as the Dallas-Fort Worth media market is the country’s fifth-largest, easily outdistancing Phoenix (11th), Minneapolis (15th), and Cleveland (19th). If DSG walks away from the Rangers, more such rejections are almost certain to follow.

MLB has been producing and distributing Padres games for the last two weeks and would similarly step in for the other teams.

The Rangers — who are currently in first place in the AL West after six straight non-playoff seasons — are among MLB’s biggest surprise stories this year.

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