Diamond Sports (Bally) Misses Payment to Twins, Pays Eight Other Teams
Diamond Sports Group, which owns Bally Sports regional TV networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a couple of months ago. That filing, however, came with a commitment to retaining the broadcasting rights they hold for NBA, NHL and MLB teams across the country. Rights that include the Minnesota Wild, Timberwolves and Twins.
Diamond Sports misses payment to Twins
The NBA and NHL regular seasons are almost over and Diamond Sports has made payments to teams in those leagues on time. But that’s not the case for all MLB teams that Bally’s broadcasts for.
Just ask the Twins, who were one of two teams that did not receive payment from Diamond Sports on Monday, as was scheduled. The other unpaid team is AL Central rival, Cleveland. At least eight other teams did receive payment as scheduled.
Diamond Sports missed rights fees payments to the Guardians and the Twins and entered a 15-day cure period to make the payment without penalty, according to several sources.
Diamond, which owns and operates the Bally Sports-branded RSNs, made payments on time to at least eight teams within the past week: the Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Marlins, Rays, Royals and Tigers.John Ourand – Sports Business Journal
Why did Twins get skipped?
Why did the Twins get left out, you ask? According to Ourand’s sources, it’s because of their refusal to negotiate a new deal with Bally Sports. There’s only one year remaining on their current contract and the team “has not been receptive to cutting a new deal”.
One reason for withholding the Twins payment is due not so much to the size of its rights contract but it’s length. The Twins deal with Bally Sports North ends after this season, and sources say the team has not been receptive to cutting a new deal.John Ourand – Sports Business Journal
What happens now?
Diamond Sports Group now enters a 15-day cure period with the Twins and Guardians, giving them a little over two weeks to make payment without penalty. If they do not cough up the money before then, the MLB is expected to file an immediate petition to the bankruptcy court, in the hopes of taking broadcasting rights away from Bally Sports.
A main question comes down to what will happen to the Guardians and Twins rights if Diamond does not pay within its cure period. Almost immediately, MLB will petition the bankruptcy court to make a decision about who controls those rights and whether bankruptcy affords Diamond protection in this case.John Ourand – Sports Business Journal
According to Ourand, the MLB strongly believes they’d win broadcasting rights back if this process plays out that far. This isn’t the first time Diamond Sports has missed a payment and been threatened by the MLB. They missed a payment to the San Diego Padres last month and waited until the very last day of their 15-day cure period, before finally paying.
For now, Minnesota Twins games will continue to be broadcast on Bally Sports North. DirecTV and cable customers can add BSN to their viewing packages. Games are NOT broadcasted to the Bally Sports Plus app like Wild and Wolves games are. Fubo is the only streaming service not associated with cable or DirecTV, that broadcasts Twins games.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan