Two months into the 2023 MLB season, the Diamond Sports Group has reportedly lost the media rights to a team – the San Diego Padres.
Per the Sports Business Journal, Diamond elected not to make a past due payment to the Padres before a Tuesday deadline, which returns the Padres’ media rights to the team. MLB will produce Wednesday night’s game in Miami and will stream Padres games for free through Sunday while also airing Friars games on various cable, satellite, and streaming providers. Channel listings are expected to be announced tomorrow, with the Padres regular broadcast crew (including the beloved pairing of Don Orsillo and Mark Grant) still calling the team’s games.
In a statement to SBJ, Diamond confirmed the non-payment.
“While DSG has significant liquidity and have been making rights payments to teams, the economics of the Padres’ contract were not aligned with market realities. MLB has forced our hand by its continued refusal to negotiate direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming rights for all teams in our portfolio despite our proposal to pay every team in full in exchange for those rights. We are continuing to broadcast games for teams under our contracts.”
Diamond missed their rights payment to the Padres earlier this month, and last week, SBJ reported that it seemed likely they’d let the grace period to make that payment lapse. Diamond and the Padres dealt with a similar situation in March at the start of the season, but Diamond made that past-due payment before the end of the grace period.
For months now, MLB has been firm in their stance about producing and distributing games if payments were missed. But until Tuesday, MLB never had to take that step.
Several teams under the Diamond RSN umbrella have been faced with missing rights payments this season, with the Padres joining the Diamondbacks, Guardians, Rangers, Reds, and Twins in a state of flux. As mentioned in their statement above, Diamond has been pushing for the streaming rights to those teams, along with the Angels, Braves, and Cardinals, to no avail. Only five MLB teams, the Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Royals, and Tigers, have sold their streaming rights to Diamond, allowing their games to be streamed on the direct to consumer service Bally Sports+.