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Bally Sports Likely to Miss Payment to MLB’s Cleveland Guardians; What Will Happen if It Does?

Diamond Sports Group (DSG), the parent company of Bally Sports’ collection of 19 regional sports networks (RSNs), is inching its way through bankruptcy proceedings. DSG has officially filed for Chapter 11 protections, and is now trying to figure out how to meet financial obligations to the organizations it partners with.

One of those organizations is the Cleveland Guardians, whose games are normally broadcast on Bally Sports Great Lakes. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that Diamond is “unlikely” to make its scheduled broadcast rights payment to the Guardians when it comes due on Saturday, April 8. Missing the payment will trigger a 10-day grace period in which DSG can still compensate the team without penalty.

If it does not do so, MLB would begin the process of trying to reclaim the team’s rights through bankruptcy court. That process could be relatively quick if Diamond does not resist MLB’s efforts, but if it does, the process could drag out. Either way, Guardians representatives have promised there will be no interruption in the offering of games on TV.

“No matter what, we’re confident our games will be on TV in some manner,” said Curtis Danburg, Guardians vice president of communications. “We don’t expect any disruption to our fans being able to watch the games on TV.”

Diamond has publicly stated several times that it plans to continue operating as normal during bankruptcy proceedings, but behind the scenes, there has been talk that the company could surrender its four most expensive contracts back to MLB in the near future. Cleveland is one of the four teams in question, along with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and San Diego Padres. The New York Post recently reported that the league would stream games from those teams for free in-market if DSG could not carry out its contractual obligations, but that report has not been confirmed by the company or MLB.

For its part, MLB has stated that its cable channel MLB Network is a viable alternative to carry games no longer viewable on RSNs. Diamond holds the broadcast rights to fourteen total MLB teams currently, but the streaming rights to just five of those clubs.

There remains at least a possibility that DSG will make its scheduled payment to the Guardians within the 10-day grace period. The company took its 30-day payment window with the Padres down to the wire last week, but managed to hand over a check on time, ensuring its games will be broadcast on Bally Sports San Diego for the rest of the season, according to Sports Business Journal.

For now, MLB seems to be stuck in a pattern of hurry-up-and-wait. It has plans in place for all contingencies, but they rely on having more clarity from DSG, which is understandably taking its time when trying to make multi-million dollar financial calls that could decide the fate of the company.

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David covers the biggest news stories, live events, premieres, and informational pieces for The Streamable. Before joining TS, he wrote extensively for Screen Rant and has years of experience writing about the entertainment and streaming industries. He's a Broncos fan, streams on his Toshiba Fire TV, and his favorites include "Andor," "Rings of Power," and "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds."

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