With certain MLB clubs cutting ties with their usual regional sports network (RSN) coverage and having those relationships directly tied to team payrolls, the state of where you can watch your favorite team on screens remains a head-scratcher for the future.
It appears that’s the case for many front-office executives when asked about the latest on these television relationships with Bally Sports.
“I do think there are a lot of question marks for next year,” St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told The Athletic on Wednesday. “But our other revenue source is attendance, and that’s something that from an organization standpoint, we want to be focused on that. … We understand this is product-driven.”
In March, Diamond Sports Group, the largest owner of RSNs announced it filed for Chapter 11 protection bankruptcy in order to eliminate over $8 billion in debt. The company owns Bally Sports, one of the main RSNs covering MLB. Eleven teams across the league have TV rights that are still owned by Bally.
It once was a higher number. Since then, MLB has taken over the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks games.
There also had been a motion filed against Diamond by the league to see if it plans to broadcast on the Bally RSN’s next season.
“We need to know who they want to continue to broadcast and who they don’t want to continue to broadcast so that we can make plans in order to deliver games to our fans,” Manfred told media during the World Series, including the Associated Press.
Twins’ president of baseball operations Derek Falvey also appeared uncertain of what’s next.
“There’s a lack of clarity on the TV revenue,” he told The Athletic back in October during the general manager meetings. “That’s a fact, that’s no secret to anybody. So I think that that plays a role, you know, just like all of our revenue sources play a role in some degree.”
When it comes to the monetary aspect, Atlanta Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos did say the team’s payroll will increase.
“Our payroll will be going up,” Anthopoulos said Wednesday. “Just to what extent, I’m obviously not going to say, but our payroll is expected to be above where we ended the season.”
The Braves finished the 2023 season with a payroll of around $205 million.
Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty, one of the Braves’ owners said he received a payment from Diamond Sports Group during the 2023 season, despite skipping payments for other teams.
“We think we are probably the most profitable RSN they have. Some of the other ones were at less attractive as territories or as fan bases, or relatively less attractive in relative revenue to cost for Bally. And that’s why in the bankruptcy proceedings they were terminated by Bally,” Maffei said in August.