Xfinity drops Bally Sports Detroit after talks fall through

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After contract negotiations fell short, Comcast Xfinity has announced it will no longer carry Bally Sports Detroit, the broadcast partner for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons.

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Instead, cable subscribers now see a statement that reads: “Bally Sports is no longer available.”

The cable company says it has been working with the owner of Bally Sports, Diamond Sports Group, as Diamond navigates bankruptcy proceedings. The company says it has provided multiple offers, all of which were reportedly declined.

Xfinity Channel 201 now carries this statement instead of Bally Sports Detroit. (May 1, 2024)
Xfinity Channel 201 now carries this statement instead of Bally Sports Detroit. (May 1, 2024)

“We no longer have the rights to continue carrying their content. As a result, we will be issuing proactive monthly credits to customers for the loss of this network,” the statement reads.

A Comcast spokesperson told News 8 that those credits will range between $8 and $10 and should process automatically.

According to Puck News, Diamond Sports Group, a spin-off of Sinclair Broadcast Group, recently reached deals with Charter Communications, Cod Communications and DirecTV.

In a statement, Diamond pins the blame on Xfinity.

“It’s disappointing that Comcast rejected a proposed extension that would have kept our channels on the air, and that Comcast indicated that it intends to pull the signals, preventing fans from watching their favorite local teams,” the statement read. “Comcast has refused to engage in substantive discussions despite Diamond offering terms similar to those reached with much larger distributors of ours.”

Bally Sports says fans in West Michigan can still catch games through DirecTV, DirecTV Stream, Spectrum, Fubo and the Bally Sports app and website.

Amazon will invest in Diamond Sports as part of a bankruptcy restructuring agreement

Diamond Sports Group operates 19 regional sports networks, including Bally Sports Detroit, which carries live broadcasts of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Red Wings.

The network operated as Fox Sports Detroit for more than 20 years, but when The Walt Disney Company bought out 21st Century Fox in 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice ruled the regional sports networks must be sold to avoid monopolizing sports broadcasts.

In January, Amazon announced it will partner with Diamond Sports as part of a restructuring agreement. In a 2021 financial filing, Diamond Sports announced it carried a debt of $8.67 million.

The agreement was expected to keep the company afloat and emerge from bankruptcy proceedings, preventing the collapse of any more networks. Last season, MLB had to take over the production and distribution of broadcasts for the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks after Diamond let rights payments lapse with the Padres and couldn’t agree to an amended deal with the Diamondbacks.

Amazon customers are expected to be able to access their favorite team’s content on Prime Video. Pricing and a timeline for availability have yet to be announced.

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