Bally Sports is dead. Long Live Bally Sports!
To all you MLB fans out there who were dreading the end of blackouts more than the frat houses in Clifton on a breezy Saturday afternoon in the fall, today is your lucky day!
Despite a recent (and wildly successful push) by Reds Daily Media Group to supplant Bally Sports as the Reds Official Broadcast, Diamond Sports Group (owner of Bally) has emerged from well-deserved life-support in the form of a minority investment and ownership stake by none other than Amazon.
Amazon is now officially a minority owner of Diamond Sports Group’s Bally Sports regional networks. Diamond announced Wednesday that Amazon had taken a minority stake in the company as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. More significantly for sports fans across the country, Amazon’s stake in the company means that games televised on Bally Sports channels will be available to local fans via Amazon Prime.
Nearly 40 teams across MLB, the NBA and the NHL have local television contracts with Bally Sports regional affiliates, but not all television providers have deals to carry Bally Sports networks. YouTubeTV users have long been unable to watch their local teams’ games without subscribing to Bally Sports’ streaming service.
Now, those fans should be able to see their teams play if they have an Amazon Prime subscription.
“We are thrilled to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement that provides a detailed framework for a reorganization plan and substantial new financing that will enable Diamond to operate and thrive beyond 2024,” DSG CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. “We are grateful for the support from Amazon and a group of our largest creditors who clearly believe in the value-creating potential of this business.”
Diamond Sports purchased the Fox Sports regional networks
The deal with Amazon and other creditors could be a stabilizing force in an uncertain television landscape for dozens of professional sports teams across the country. Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group purchased the Fox Sports regional sports networks in August 2019 after the United States Department of Justice required Disney to spin off the sports networks as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.
Diamond’s purchase came at a time when television customers across the country were hastening their departure from traditional cable and satellite television services and companies such as YouTubeTV and others were hesitant to meet Diamond’s asking price to carry the regional sports networks.
Local television deals are a significant source of income for MLB, NBA and NHL teams. Bally networks have the local rights for 37 teams — 11 MLB teams, 15 NBA teams and 11 NHL teams.
As the television landscape changed, Diamond Sports Group quickly found itself in financial trouble. It filed for bankruptcy in March 2023, and that filing’s effects were immediate. After Diamond didn’t pay the San Diego Padres, MLB assumed control of the team’s broadcasts. In June, Diamond was ordered to pay other teams the money they were owed.
In November, the NBA reached a deal that ensured Bally networks would televise the games for 15 teams through the end of the season. That deal came two months after the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury announced they were leaving Bally Sports and would televise their games on free over-the-air television.