Rob Manfred Dec 7, 2022; San Diego, CA, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred looks on during the presentation of the Allan H. Selling Award for philanthropic excellence during the 2022 MLB Winter Meetings at Manchester Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Sinclair owns local broadcasting rights to 14 MLB teams via Diamond Sports Group. Diamond is on the verge of bankruptcy and that could affect whether or not MLB teams receive over $1 billion in payments this year. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is taking the initiative to ensure those teams get their money.

Manfred revealed after an owners’ meeting that the league is prepared to take over local broadcasts if Diamond fails to make payments. According to the Associated Press, Manfred said, “I think you should assume that if Diamond doesn’t broadcast, we’ll be in a position to step in. Our goal would be to make games available not only within the traditional cable bundle but on the digital side, as well.”

It may not necessarily come to that. Though with Manfred going public like this, it’s potentially putting his league in front of the line before the 16 NBA and 12 NHL teams, who are likely in the same boat under the Diamond umbrella, to get paid first.

Last September, it was reported that an MLB/NBA/NHL alliance was trying to buy Bally Sports’ RSNs. A month later, Manfred revealed the league was “digging our feet in” on selling streaming rights to Sinclair after the league “never received a coherent response” about how MLB’s streaming rights would help solve Diamond’s financial problems.

Given Bally Sports’ limited distribution at the moment, this could be an opportunity for MLB to take over and provide local broadcasts to a wider audience. That might be a lengthy process that results in not bringing in as much revenue, so it may just be for the best to try and get paid. And if Diamond fails to make payments, they’ll cross that bridge when they get there.

[Associated Press]

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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