MLB plans to broadcast games in select markets for free temporarily if Bally declares bankruptcy


With uncertainty surrounding the future of the Bally regional sports networks, Major League Baseball has a contingency plan in place to make sure that all 30 teams have their games broadcast on television in 2023, even if some of the RSNs go belly up.

And according to Josh Kosman of The New York Post, it's more of a matter of when than if with certain RSNs:

"Sources close to the situation told The Post the money-hemorrhaging company is expected to file for bankruptcy March 17 – days before the season opens on March 30.

"Diamond, which operates under the Bally’s name, is expected to use the bankruptcy proceedings to reject the contracts of at least four teams to which it pays more in rights fees than it collects back through cable contracts and ads, two sources close to the situation said."

Diamond Sports Group, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, currently has the TV rights to the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Guardians, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Kosman reports that as of now MLB is planning to manage the broadcasts of "roughly a half dozen teams," specifically citing the Guardians, Diamondbacks, Reds and Padres as teams in which Diamond Sports Group is losing money broadcasting.

If MLB does indeed handle the telecasts for select teams, the plan initially is for the games to be offered for free locally as commissioner Rob Manfred "negotiates with their cable companies for lower contracts."

Some of of the Cardinals games that are currently set to be broadcast on Bally Sports Midwest will also be broadcast on KMOX. Check the Cardinals spring training broadcast schedule here.

It's fair to wonder if the RSNs -- be it ones owned by Diamond Sports Group or another company -- will have interest in acquiring the rights even at a lower figure. It may be that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of RSNs, and the model of MLB producing the games will eventually become the norm for all teams. Such a scenario would have drastic results on the cable industry and what type of profits MLB franchises stand to make each year.

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