Diamond Sports Group (DSG), the regional sports broadcast operator looking to emerge from bankruptcy, has reached rights agreements with Major League Baseball (MLB) teams the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Guardians, and Minnesota Twins for the 2024 season.
DSG’s deals with the Guardians, Rangers, and Twins will see the linear cable operator carry the club’s games in their respective home markets through the Bally Sports service after renegotiating rights fee reductions understood to be around 15%.
The Rangers’ previous deal with DSG was worth $110 million per season and ran through 2034, while the Guardians made a reported $55 million last year on its contract that runs through 2027. The Twins’ 12-year deal worth a reported $480 million expired after the 2023 season, meanwhile.
In a statement, DSG said: “We are pleased to have reached agreements with the Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins, and Texas Rangers that work for all parties and enable us to continue delivering high-quality, live game broadcasts on Bally Sports to dedicated fans through the 2024 season.”
The new deals, which will provide short-term certainty for the three MLB teams previously in limbo, are still pending the approval of a bankruptcy judge, who will make a ruling on DSG later this week (February 9).
Should the deals go through, DSG said it will broadcast games for the 12 MLB teams that remain in its portfolio for the entire 2024 season.
Along with the Rangers, Guardians, and Twins, DSG retains the rights to the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Red, Los Angeles Angels, and Atlanta Braves.
The deal comes weeks after DSG said it had entered into a major deal with a group of creditors to come out of its almost year-long bankruptcy proceedings.
DSG, a unit of Sinclair Broadcast Group which owns a range of regional sports networks (RSNs) in the US, has said it will receive funding from Amazon, as part of a wider content streaming deal between the two organizations.
Amazon Prime Video is set to become the main partner through which customers can buy access to local DSG channels, while Amazon will also make a minority investment (15%) in the RSN provider.
This will allow Prime Video customers to access live US top-tier sports including games from Major League Baseball, (MLB) the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). The streaming service already carries some games played by the New York Yankees (MLB) and Brooklyn Nets (NBA) produced by the YES Network.
DSG was forced to file for bankruptcy in March 2023. This deal enables it to emerge from that position and prevents a complete collapse of the RSNs which cover a vast range of popular US sports franchises.
Under the Bally Sports brand, DSG owns 18 RSNs, which combined hold the rights to 37 professional US teams (11 MLB, 15 NBA, and 11 NHL). The Bally brand will continue through 2024 but will then be replaced with a new name in 2025, according to reports.
DSG has said the deal with the various creditors will provide it with around $450 million, some of which will help to pay off various debts, with the rest to finance a reorganization plan.
Amazon is reportedly putting in $115 million of that total, and could potentially invest another $50 million, the Athletic has said. Amazon was first reported as being interested in investing in DSG in December.
DSG has been in bankruptcy proceedings in Texas since it filed for protection last March, and the deal with Amazon remains subject to approval by the bankruptcy court.
The RSN provider has now, off the back of the deal announcement, said it expects to see its direct-to-consumer revenue grow from $49 million in 2023 to $658 million in 2026.
Sinclair originally bought the separate RSNs from Disney in 2019 (Disney was required to sell these for its deal with 21st Century Fox to go through), and an agreement last year then saw DSG (in charge of the RSNs) become a separate company.
DSG has recently struck agreements with both the NHL and NBA to keep local coverage rights through the end of the ongoing 2023-24 season. Before these tie-ups were announced, DSG had previously faced a deadline in March to come up with a workable restructuring plan.
Last season, owing to the bankruptcy proceedings, MLB had to step in and take over the distribution and production of games played by the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks, after DSG failed to reach new agreements with those franchises.