Diamond Sports Group has made a rights payment to the Cincinnati Reds, days before the team’s media rights were set to revert to MLB.
Two weeks ago, the Sports Business Journal reported that Diamond missed a payment to the Reds, whose games air on Bally Sports Ohio, and that MLB was prepared to take over production and distribution of the team’s games. The team’s game with the White Sox on Saturday, May 6th was targeted as the potential first date in the event of non-payment (the Reds are off on May 4th, and the May 5th game is an Apple TV+ production).
But for now, that’s all for naught. SBJ reports that Diamond made the payment prior to the end of the two-week grace period. This means that Reds games will continue airing on Bally Sports Ohio, which the team also has an equity stake in, for at least a few more weeks.
In addition to the Reds, several other teams have been caught up in Diamond’s mess, including the Diamondbacks, Guardians, Padres, Rangers, and Twins. The Diamondbacks, Guardians, Rangers, and Twins all received court-ordered 50% payments from Diamond last week.
The Padres, like the Reds, were paid by the end of the grace period. San Diego is (again) next up for a rights payment, due May 15th. Diamond’s ultimate goal is to retain the rights to all of the teams under their umbrella, but to renegotiate the rights agreements to pay teams less.
I feel like we’re going in circles here. Diamond doesn’t pay on time, disaster appears to be on the horizon, and then is averted, either by a court intervening or Diamond making a payment in the final days. Don’t be surprised at all if Diamond enters another grace period with the Padres in two weeks, and then pays them before the end of the grace period. And by then, I’m sure it will be time for other Diamond teams to be paid, with some being paid as expected (the Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Royals, and Tigers are all Bally Sports+ teams and are probably safe, while the Angels, Braves, and Cardinals were all paid normally last time around) and some being shorted to whatever degree.
The last time I checked, there’s another hearing in Diamond’s bankruptcy proceedings scheduled for the end of the month. Maybe we’ll get some resolution by then.