Bally Sports Could Drop Twins Broadcasts in Coming Weeks

Photo: Stephen Maturen - Getty Images

Diamond Sports Group, parent company of Bally Sports, has already forfeited its rights to broadcast San Diego Padres games and the Minnesota Twins could very well be next. The company, which is currently navigating through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, must pay its quarterly rights fee to the Twins by July 1 or they will no longer have rights to televise their games.

Minnesota Twins vs Diamond Sports (Bally)

Diamond, somewhat surprisingly, paid the Texas Rangers this week. Three other teams — the Guardians, Reds and Diamondbacks — also have rights payments due sometime in the next month but it appears Minnesota is the least likely to be paid of the four (five including Texas).

Of the five teams, the Minnesota Twins seem to be in the most danger. Their contract with Diamond expires at the end of the 2023 season. Even if Diamond paid the team and aired games on Bally Sports North for the rest of the season, it doesn’t appear that a new deal is in the cards.

Awful Announcing

Interestingly enough, Diamond Sports could choose to pay or not pay the Twins based mostly on how well the team plays between now and July 1. That’s reportedly one of the main reasons why the Rangers received payment earlier this week. More fans watch games when their team is competitive and more viewers means more money.

The company determined that the Rangers, who are in first place in the AL West, and play in the economically vibrant Dallas market, have the potential to be a serious money-maker. If Diamond wants to stay in business long-term, as it says it does, it would have been foolish to reject the Rangers.

The Reds, Twins, Diamondbacks and Guardians are in smaller markets than the Rangers, reducing the revenue potential. Consequently, they are in the crosshairs, even if they do provide exclusive programming. With carriage fees from cable and satellite operators continuing to fall, Diamond Sports has to assess whether each team can generate enough revenue to justify the deal.

Phillip Swann – The TV Answer Man
What happens if the Twins don’t get paid?

If Diamond Sports does not pay the Minnesota Twins by July 1, they will immediately relinquish their broadcast rights for the Twins to Major League Baseball. When it happened to the Padres earlier this season, fans could stream games for free through MLB.TV for one week, before a charge for $19.99 kicked in.

MLB was also able to strike deals with local cable, satellite and streaming providers in the San Diego market, so fans who already pay for TV packages were able to watch games without having to pay directly through MLB.TV.

If Bally Sports stops airing Twins games, the immediate aftermath would be a bit chaotic. But once the dust settled, there would be a lot more ways for fans access games. Currently, Bally Sports is not able to stream Twins games unless viewers already have a cable, satellite or streaming package (like Fubo.tv) that includes the Twins.

It’s expected that the MLB would keep broadcast crews the same, meaning we’d still have Dick Bremer, Justin Morneau and the rest of the BSN cast of characters if Bally Sports chooses to move on.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan