The MLB logo in the Washington Nationals dugout. Oct 2, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; A view of the MLB logo in the dugout during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball has taken a step to show how serious they are about local media rights.

Billy Chambers, a long-time executive at various RSNs, has been hired as MLB’s new EVP of Local Media, per the Sports Business Journal.

MLB hired Billy Chambers, one of the country’s most experienced RSN executives, to figure out what to do with its regional media rights, as the market for RSNs continues to crumble. The former Fox Sports Net exec takes the newly created position of EVP/Local Media. Chambers starts Feb. 1 and will report to MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden. Chambers was CFO overseeing the 21 Fox Sports-branded RSNs. He stayed with Sinclair after the big RSN sale, taking on the additional title of COO. Chambers’s task at MLB is straightforward: the league will look to him to put it in the position to take more control over its local rights.

Diamond Sports, the company that operates the Bally Sports RSNs, has run into issues with MLB over streaming games direct to consumer. MLB initially demanded a stake in the service that eventually launched as Bally Sports+, which never came about. Only a handful of teams ended up selling their streaming rights to Diamond, and it doesn’t seem like MLB is willing to help the service out going forward.

This summer, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called ending local blackouts a “top priority,” and hiring Chambers seems to be a step in that direction. SBJ also reports that possibilities include “a national product that would combine its local rights with its out-of-market Extra Innings package” and “MLB producing and distributing games directly for distribution companies, like Xfinity, DirecTV, Charter and Dish Network, while at the same time launching a direct-to-consumer service that would combine the out-of-market package with local telecasts.”

That is similar to what MLB CRO Noah Garden said over the summer, when he hinted that MLB was attempting to loop in-market steaming into MLB.TV.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Joe Lucia

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