Texas Rangers Attempting to Break Away from Diamond Sports; Company Says it Has Missed No Payments to Team
If Diamond Sports Group (DSG) thought that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections would calm the media furor surrounding its regional sports networks (RSNs), the company is being daily disabused of that notion.
The latest news from the ongoing collapse of the RSN industry is that Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers are trying to end their working relationship with the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s sports vertical. The Athletic reports that the Rangers notified DSG that in the event of the company’s insolvency, it would have a right to terminate its contract and that the company’s bankruptcy filing may trigger that termination right.
Diamond is resisting those attempts, arguing that it has never missed a scheduled rights payment to the Rangers, therefore, the contract must be continued. DSG and ARC Holdings — the segment of the company which oversees Bally Sports Southwest — have made it clear that they will do everything they can to hold onto the Rangers’ rights, according to court filings made this week.
“ARC Holdings has never missed a payment to the Rangers and made a substantial payment to the Rangers in February pursuant to the Rangers Agreement,” the filing states. “ARC Holdings and Diamond dispute the Rangers’ assertions in the Termination Notice and are prepared to take all legal actions to protect ARC Holdings’ rights under the Rangers Agreement, which Diamond maintains remains in effect.”
Now, it’s up to the courts to determine whether or not DSG’s bankruptcy declaration creates the ability for the Rangers to legally terminate its deal. In the meantime, the Rangers notified The Athletic that its games will continue to air on Bally Sports Southwest during the process.
“We expect that there will be no disruption in the televising of Texas Rangers games for the upcoming season,” the team said. “We are confident that a long-term solution will be accomplished for the RSN issue.”
MLB has been working on those long-term solutions for some time. The league has repeatedly made clear that it is ready to step in and fill any broadcasting voids left by the collapse of the RSNs. The league is being forced to put those plans into action, as DSG will reportedly reject its four biggest MLB contracts and send the broadcast rights of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, and San Diego Padres back to their respective clubs; though that has not yet been confirmed by MLB, the clubs, or DSG.
MLB plans to stream those teams’ games for free in their local markets while it seeks TV deals with cable and satellite distributors. A similar solution could emerge for Rangers games if the team reclaims its broadcast rights, but as stated above, the plan, for now, is for games to air as scheduled on Bally Sports Southwest.