MLB Establishes Local Broadcasting Group in Preparation to Air Games of Teams Formerly Covered by RSNs
Diamond Sports Group (DSG) may still be working its way toward bankruptcy proceedings, but it doesn’t sound as if Major League Baseball wants to wait for the parent company of Bally Sports’ regional sports networks (RSNs) to come up with a solution to its problems.
A report from the Associated Press indicates that MLB has set up a local broadcasting group, complete with multiple executives with experience in regional sports broadcasting in preparation to take over the airing of games from DSG. If the league is not satisfied with the debt servicing plan that the company must present at the end of the 30-day grace period that began Feb. 15 when DSG missed an interest payment on its debt, it plans to take back the broadcasting rights to the 14 teams DSG currently holds.
“We’ve been really clear that if Diamond doesn’t pay under every single one of the broadcast agreements, that creates a termination right, and our clubs will proceed to terminate those contracts,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said during a mid-February press conference.
DSG has the rights to air Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
The rights owned by DSG are no longer the only collection of teams the new local broadcasting group established by MLB have to contend with. Warner Bros. Discovery recently told the league it was exiting the RSN business altogether, and that the three baseball teams covered by AT&T SportsNet RSNs would have 30 days to reclaim their rights, or they would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Those teams are the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
In total, that makes 17 teams the league’s new local broadcasting unit has to make arrangements for. The good news is, MLB has been planning for this eventuality for some time. Baseball executives have confirmed that the league will use its linear cable channel MLB Network, as well as its out-of-market streaming service MLB.TV to air games if RSNs cannot carry out their contractual obligations. The plan could potentially include in-market games being available to stream on MLB.TV, as well.
There are other channel owners hovering to see how the drama plays out, as well. E.W. Scripps Company is one such outlet, and the head of Scripps Sports has been in contact with MLB about potentially taking over broadcasts from DSG.
From all the preparation going on behind the scenes, though, it seems as if MLB is ready to go it alone if it finds DSG’s bankruptcy solutions aren’t workable. The establishment of a local broadcasting group is just another sign that the league is serious about airing its own games, should the need arise.
MLB.TV is the official streaming service of Major League Baseball. You can see every out-of-market game live or on demand, and choose home or away TV and radio feeds. The app allows fans to watch up to four games simultaneously on the same screen through their Multi-view feature.
Users can choose to follow the entire league for “All Teams” ($149.99) plan, which is also available for “All Teams” ($24.99) a month, or you can stream one team’s out-of-market games for “Single Team” ($129.99).
One major caveat about the service: Your local games may be blacked out through MLB.TV, so you may still need to watch through your local provider.
If you’d like to go beyond the games, MLB.TV provides features, documentaries, and classic games.