May 28, 2024

The Bankruptcy of Bally Sports

On Tuesday morning, it was reported that Amazon and Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of Bally Sports, have reached an agreement amid the ongoing bankruptcy case. In May 2019, Bally Sports acquired the rights to the Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), formerly owned by the Fox Sports Regional networks. This acquisition came about as a result of regulatory actions compelling The Walt Disney Company to divest these networks following their merger with 21st Century Fox.

The financial challenges faced by Diamond Sports Group are unsurprising, considering the substantial capital investments required for new studios and infographics, the limited availability of Bally on certain providers, and the economic difficulties brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon, Bally Sports, and the Milwaukee Brewers: The New Deal

What the new Diamond-Amazon deal means for MLB, NBA, NHL - ESPN

Tuesday’s announcement unveiled that Amazon is set to absorb Bally Sports’ debt in exchange for a minority ownership share in the parent company and broadcasting rights to certain Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). The impact of this new agreement will be evident in the upcoming 2024 MLB season.

The deal outlines a structure wherein only five out of the thirteen MLB teams currently associated with a Bally Sports RSN will be affected. These teams include the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Milwaukee Brewers. Amazon Prime will now broadcast games for these teams, while the status quo remains unchanged for the other teams.

Numerous specifics remain uncertain at this point, such as the implications for blackout restrictions nationwide (especially in Iowa), the potential creation of a distinct pricing model for RSN access on Amazon Prime, and the fate of the remaining teams and their broadcasting staff, including NBA and NHL teams like the Milwaukee Bucks.

Despite the uncertainties, given Amazon’s expanded access, it wouldn’t be surprising if they pursue further consolidation to strengthen their streaming service, positioning it against competitors like Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV. This move aligns with their existing partnership to broadcast Thursday Night Football for the NFL.

Notably, this deal addresses accessibility challenges faced by Wisconsin residents. Previously, Bally Sports was exclusively available to YouTube TV and Charter Spectrum customers, later launching a direct-to-consumer subscription model that encountered public backlash due to technical issues and declared bankruptcy.

With Amazon Prime accessible to anyone with a stable internet connection and boasting a robust streaming service, this agreement appears to be a positive development for consumers in the affected markets, offering improved access to baseball in 2024 and potentially beyond.

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