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Over the next four-plus weeks, we’re going to learn a lot more about Diamond Sports’ MLB broadcast strategy going forward.

Per the Sports Business Journal, five clubs with team-friendly media rights deals, the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Guardians, Twins, and Reds, are owed rights payments in the coming weeks. Following a ruling in bankruptcy court earlier this month that Diamond could not pay less than the value of previously agreed contracts, all five could be dropped by the company and its Bally Sports RSNs.

At the end of May, Diamond followed through on their threat to start dropping teams with unprofitable contracts, failing to pay the San Diego Padres and letting the team’s media rights revert to MLB. The league has produced and distributed Padres games for the last two weeks, and would do so for any team also dropped by Diamond this season.

The five teams mentioned above all have payments due in the near future. The Texas Rangers are up first with a payment due this Thursday, June 15th. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, and Minnesota Twins are all owed payments on July 1st, while the Cincinnati Reds have a payment set for July 15th. Unlike the previous four teams, the Reds are not part of Diamond’s bankruptcy proceedings. The team owns an unspecified equity stake in their RSN, Bally Sports Ohio.

Of the five teams, the Minnesota Twins seem to be in the most danger. Their contract with Diamond expires at the end of the 2023 season. Even if Diamond paid the team and aired games on Bally Sports North for the rest of the season, it doesn’t appear that a new deal is in the cards. Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter toward the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the team is “hopeful that our games will remain on Bally Sports North throughout the balance of the 2023 season.” St. Peter also said that the club is “ready to stand up games, to produce games, to distribute games to ensure uninterrupted access to Twins baseball” in case they’re dumped by Diamond.

The situation now is different than it was earlier in the season, when Diamond was threatening to drop teams, for a couple of reasons. First, the bankruptcy court ruled against the company and its attempts to pay lower rates on its media rights teams with teams. That took one possible lifeline off the table for Diamond. Second, the company actually followed through with dropping a team with the Padres. By doing so, Diamond showed that dropping teams isn’t an empty threat. The teams that could be dropped are also able to look at what’s happening with the Padres in San Diego as a blueprint for them going forward this season.

We’ve been talking about the Diamond bankruptcy for months, but these are three important deadlines over the next month. We’ll soon know how many of these five teams will be paid.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.