Much of the potentially high-stakes game of chicken between MLB and Diamond Sports this season has gone nowhere (unless you’re the San Diego Padres), and a Tuesday quote from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred shows why.
Speaking on Tuesday, Manfred said the league has collected 94% of rights fees from Diamond this season, per the AP.
“Of the rights fees that have come due, I think we’ve collected 94% of those rights fees so far. And that’s really important,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. “We have backstopped clubs to make sure that there isn’t some unforeseen alteration in their revenue, and all that’s designed to put clubs in a position to not have disruption when it comes to the most important side of their business, that is putting a good team on the field.”
Without crunching numbers, I’d assume the 6% uncollected would have gone to the Padres (who were dropped in May by Diamond after not being paid) and perhaps the Diamondbacks (currently in talks with Diamond regarding their future on Bally Sports Arizona). All of Diamond’s other teams have been paid on time with no drama or paid in full after a bankruptcy court ruled Diamond can’t arbitrarily pay teams less and keep their rights.
When talking about blackouts, Manfred brought up the Padres’ direct-to-consumer offering in San Diego, saying the service was “well into the five figures in terms of the subscriptions.” In-market streaming is available in San Diego for $19.99 per month or $74.99 per season, though the season-long price has now dropped to $54.99. While that’s an impressive start, the revenue generated is still far below what the Padres would have received from Diamond Sports over a full season.
Manfred said in June that “MLB is willing to backstop 80 percent of any team’s TV contract if it is canceled by Diamond.” In 2022, the Padres reportedly made $47 million in rights fees from Diamond, and broadcasts on Bally Sports San Diego averaged 51,000 viewers.