Major League Baseball has stepped in and taken over another team’s broadcasts in the wake of Diamond Sports Group’s bankruptcy.
MLB officially took over broadcasts for Arizona Diamondbacks games Tuesday. The league will make those games available for fans blackout-free through MLB.TV. Games will be available through cable or other streaming options, too.
According to the league, Diamondbacks games will be available to about 5.6 million homes with the blackout rules lifted. Diamondbacks fans can also purchase MLB.TV at a discounted rate for the rest of the season. Diamondbacks broadcasters Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly will remain in their roles for the remainder of the season, too.
This marks the second time this season that the league has stepped in. MLB took over San Diego Padres broadcasts in May.
“As Major League Baseball has proven with the Padres, we’re ready to produce and distribute games to fans, including Diamondbacks games starting today,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement. “While we’re disappointed that Diamond Sports Group failed to live up to their contractual agreement with another Club, we are taking this opportunity to reimagine the distribution model, remove blackouts on local games, improve the telecast, and expand the reach of Diamondbacks games by 4.7 million homes.”
Diamond Sports, which owns Bally Sports, officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. The company claimed to be more than $8.5 billion in debt as of last fall. Diamond Sports owned the broadcast rights of 14 MLB teams, and it purchased the rights to those teams with Sinclair Broadcast Group for almost $10 billion in 2019. Diamond Sports’ deal with the Diamondbacks was reportedly a 20-year agreement worth $1.5 billion, per ESPN.
MLB has said that it would pay teams up to 80% of their original rights contract, should it step in and take over broadcasts. Diamond Sports was ordered by a judge last month to pay the Diamondbacks', Guardians', Rangers' and Twins' contracts in full.
The company then filed a motion asking a judge to reject its television contract with the Diamondbacks late last month. That motion was approved Tuesday, which prompted MLB to step in.
"This decision provides us with an opportunity to partner with Major League Baseball to produce high-quality broadcasts of D-backs games on current platforms, expand access to include streaming options, and remove blackouts that have been a fan frustration point for years," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said in a statement. "We have enjoyed our partnership with Bally Sports Arizona and thank them for the longtime partnership. But we look forward to providing unprecedented access to our exciting team moving forward, including a greatly expanded reach of new households."
The Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays still have games being produced by a Bally Sports network. The company has said that it plans on "making all rights payments" for the remaining teams through the end of the season, per ESPN. It's unclear what will happen in 2024. The company also owns broadcasting rights for 16 NBA teams, 12 NHL teams and four WNBA teams.
The Diamondbacks enter Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, the first of a three-game road series, with a 54-42 record. They’ve lost four straight and sit 2.5 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.