Amazon takes minority stake in Bally Sports networks, will stream games on Amazon Prime

The move is a significant one for fans who subscribe to a TV service that doesn't have a deal with Bally

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 3: A Bally Sports Network microphone as seen during the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on January 3, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Amazon will soon stream games televised by Bally Sports' regional networks. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Amazon is now a minority owner of Diamond Sports Group’s Bally Sports regional networks.

Diamond announced Wednesday that Amazon had taken a minority stake in the company as part of its bankruptcy restructuring. More significantly for sports fans across the country, Amazon’s stake in the company means that games televised on Bally Sports channels will be available to local fans via Amazon Prime.

Nearly 40 teams across MLB, the NBA and the NHL have local television contracts with Bally Sports regional affiliates, but not all television providers have deals to carry Bally Sports networks. YouTubeTV users have long been unable to watch their local teams’ games without subscribing to Bally Sports’ streaming service.

Now, those fans should be able to see their teams play if they have an Amazon Prime subscription.

“We are thrilled to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement that provides a detailed framework for a reorganization plan and substantial new financing that will enable Diamond to operate and thrive beyond 2024,” DSG CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. “We are grateful for the support from Amazon and a group of our largest creditors who clearly believe in the value-creating potential of this business.”

Diamond Sports purchased the Fox Sports regional networks

The deal with Amazon and other creditors could be a stabilizing force in an uncertain television landscape for dozens of professional sports teams across the country. Sinclair’s Diamond Sports Group purchased the Fox Sports regional sports networks in August 2019 after the United States Department of Justice required Disney to spin off the sports networks as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

Diamond’s purchase came at a time when television customers across the country were hastening their departure from traditional cable and satellite television services and companies such as YouTubeTV and others were hesitant to meet Diamond’s asking price to carry the regional sports networks.

Local television deals are a significant source of income for MLB, NBA and NHL teams. Bally networks have the local rights for 37 teams — 11 MLB teams, 15 NBA teams and 11 NHL teams.

As the television landscape changed, Diamond Sports Group quickly found itself in financial trouble. It filed for bankruptcy in March 2023, and that filing’s effects were immediate. After Diamond didn’t pay the San Diego Padres, MLB assumed control of the team’s broadcasts. In June, Diamond was ordered to pay other teams the money they were owed.

In November, the NBA reached a deal that ensured Bally networks would televise the games for 15 teams through the end of the season. That deal came two months after the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury announced they were leaving Bally Sports and would televise their games on free over-the-air television.