Another team is getting pushed towards the Bally Sports chopping block.
Per the Sports Business Journal, the Diamond Sports Group did not make a payment to the Minnesota Twins in recent days, pushing them into a 15-day grace period.
The Cleveland Guardians also were not paid on time and have entered a grace period with Diamond, which was reported over the weekend.
However, Diamond *did* make rights payments to eight teams, in addition to last week’s payment to the San Diego Padres. The Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Rays, Royals, and Tigers were all paid as expected. Five of those teams sold their streaming rights to Diamond in their new rights deals, and their games can be streamed on Bally Sports+. The Angels, Braves, and Cardinals did not sell their streaming rights.
In March, Diamond missed a payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, because the missed payment came before Diamond’s bankruptcy, MLB reclaiming the team’s media rights is more complicated. If the Guardians and Twins aren’t paid by the end of their grace period, MLB is expected to “almost immediately” attempt to reclaim the two teams’ rights with an eye on producing and distributing the games on their own.
Cleveland’s deal with Diamond runs through 2027, while Minnesota’s expires after the 2023 season. The Twins have reportedly been reluctant to re-up with Diamond, perhaps making the decision to not pay the team easier for the company.
Diamond still owes payments to a pair of teams later this month: the Rangers and Reds. Cincinnati has been rumored to be on the chopping block, while Texas intends to exit their rights deal if Diamond becomes insolvent.
The decision to pay the Padres seems to have been a wise one – viewership for the team’s season opener on Bally Sports San Diego was up 75% from last year. It’s unlikely a gain that large will hold all year, but it’s clearly a positive development.