While Diamond Sports recently chose to skip payments to a handful of MLB team broadcasts, the expectation, according to Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, is that the Atlanta Braves will not be among them.
That’s because regional sports network owner Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair-affiliated parent company behind Bally Sports, recognizes how profitable the Braves currently are. A partnership between the two is expected to continue. And that’s even with Diamond filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which has significantly affected regional sports networks and their rights for local Major League Baseball games.
“We’re blessed to have an incredibly strong territory — 14 million broadband households, a fan base that is very appreciative of a very successful team, and a reasonable deal on what we are paid by Diamond of by Bally,” Maffei recently said on an analyst call, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
.“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 continued.
Maffei said that the Braves expect to continue to receive payments from Bally Sports as long as both parties fulfill their contractual obligations. Braves TV rights could become available to others if Bally does not maintain contractual payments. However, Maffei did say he did not anticipate that happening.
However, there are contingency plans in place in case that changes.
“But if it does happen, there will be other alternatives because of the strength of our product and the demand in our territory that will generate for us positive returns,” he said.
The Atlanta Braves are generating more revenue than they were a season ago. Since the team’s planned spin-off from Liberty Media, which created a separate public company called Atlanta Braves Holdings, the club’s revenue has been on the rise. In the first earnings report since the spin-off, the Braves announced that revenue grew to $270 million in the second quarter and $301 million in the first half of 2023, an increase of 8% and 11%, respectively, over the previous year, according to Front Office Sports.