How Diamond Sports Bankruptcy Filing Affects Twins, Wild and Wolves Fans

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Diamond Sports Group, the arm of Sinclair broadcasting that holds local TV broadcasting rights for Minnesota Twins, Wild and Timberwolves games (Bally Sports North), officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday.

How Diamond Sports bankruptcy filing affects Timberwolves and Wild broadcasts

We knew it was coming but the filing will have far-reaching implications, nonetheless. Some teams will feel the impact more than others. For Minnesota sports fans in the local viewing area, there will be little change… for now.

NHL and NBA broadcasts that air and stream on Bally Sports’ platforms will continue as usual for the rest of their 2022-23 seasons, the Timberwolves and Wild included. Not all teams in the MLB can say the same. But what about the Twins?

How filing affects Minnesota Twins broadcasts

If you subscribe to Bally Sports North through Directv, cable or FUBO, you will be able to watch or stream Minnesota Twins games this summer, no problem. But that’s not the case for fans who have enjoyed Timberwolves and Wild games through Bally’s new standalone ($19.99/mo) streaming app, Bally Sports Plus.

Here’s why: Major League Baseball has sold streaming rights to Diamond Sports for just 5 of the 14 teams it holds TV rights to. As of now, the Twins are excluded from that list. In a report Tuesday from ESPN, it’s Diamond Sports’ goal to expand its streaming rights into all 14 of those MLB regions, even as their bankruptcy moves forward.

The goal, a source familiar with the situation said, is for the company to acquire streaming rights for all 14 of its major league teams in order to broadcast games both through a linear cable model and on direct-to-consumer platforms. At the moment, Diamond has rights to stream the games to just five teams. It would have to negotiate the other nine with MLB, but MLB has previously been hesitant to sign off on additional rights for a company that has yet to prove itself financially sustainable.

Hope on the horizon for local cord-cutting Twins fans?

So if you are hoping to use Bally’s standalone app to watch the Twins this summer, your chances hinge on Diamond Sports’ efforts to gain streaming rights to the Twins ASAP. On the positive side, the Twins are one of the profitable MLB teams that Bally’s currently holds TV rights for.

That means it’s in Diamond Sports’ best interest to get the Twins on Bally Sports Plus sooner, rather than later. I’d expect a heavy push by Diamond to attain streaming rights to Twins games ASAP, They’ll want to get something done before the Wild and Wolves seasons are over.

Otherwise, Bally Sports Plus would be looking at 6 months without any major Minnesota sports games to stream. If that were to happen, subscriptions would drop in droves around the BSN viewing area.

Through the restructuring process, Diamond is widely expected to shed the contracts of its less-profitable teams. Not being able to acquire direct-to-consumer rights, which was part of the reason it entered into a grace period with the D-backs, will factor into which teams it chooses to hold onto.

What happens if Bally Sports drops your team?

If Diamond Sports stops broadcasting games for any teams it owns rights to, the MLB has already promised to immediately get those broadcasts back on the air, through the app (free for local viewers).

For some teams — watch out Diamondbacks — that could happen as soon as this season. The Twins are not expected to be one of those teams, however. Diamond Sports has already paid the Twins for their 2023 broadcasting rights and they seem to be optimistic streaming rights will be acquired soon too.

How local viewers watch Minnesota Twins, Wild and Wolves games beyond the 2023 baseball season is completely up in the air. But for now, Bally Sports North is their TV and streaming home. Until the MLB hands streaming rights over to Diamond Sports, local Twins fans must subscribe to Directv, standard cable or FUBO, if they want to watch their team this summer on TV or via stream.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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