Braves broadcasts will continue on Bally after MLB takes over Padres games

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Braves broadcasts will continue on Bally Sports South as owner Diamond Sports Group continues through bankruptcy and had its broadcast rights for the Padres revert to MLB this week.

MLB began to broadcast and produce Padres games Wednesday after Diamond Sports declined to pay its latest rights fee for Bally Sports San Diego.

Diamond Sports, now an unconsolidated and independently run subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, owns 19 regional sports networks under the Bally Sports brand.

With the situation concerning the Padres, it’s fair to ask whether the Braves and its broadcasts will be affected.

According to several people familiar with the situation, all payments from Bally Sports South have been made and coverage of the Braves will continue unchanged.

A Diamond Sports Group spokesperson provided the following statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday evening: “Diamond Sports Group (DSG) has decided not to provide additional funding to the San Diego RSN (regional sports network) that would enable it to make the rights payment to the San Diego Padres during the grace period and will no longer be broadcasting Padres games after Tuesday, May 30. While DSG has significant liquidity and have been making rights payments to teams, the economics of the Padres’ contract were not aligned with market realities. MLB has forced our hand by its continued refusal to negotiate direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming rights for all teams in our portfolio despite our proposal to pay every team in full in exchange for those rights. We are continuing to broadcast games for teams under our contracts.”

MLB will air Padres games through its streaming service, MLB.TV, and other cable channels.

Diamond Sports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. Talks with MLB over streaming rights have not progressed. Diamond Sports is now trying to get rid of unprofitable contract. Diamond Sports and the Padres were in the middle of a 20-year contract worth $1.2 billion through 2032.

At the time of the bankruptcy filing, MLB said it was prepared to broadcast games locally if necessary.

“Diamond Sports Group’s bankruptcy declaration is an unfortunate development that we have been expecting,” MLB said in a statement at the time. “Despite Diamond’s economic situation, there is every expectation that they will continue televising all games they are committed to during the bankruptcy process. Major League Baseball is ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any other regional sports network is unable to do so as required by their agreement with our clubs.”

Diamond Sports reportedly skipped payments for other MLB teams, including the Diamondbacks, its push to obtain streaming rights. During the bankruptcy case, it was ordered to make partial payments to the teams it had stopped paying.

Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased 21 Fox regional sports networks across the country, including Atlanta-based Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast, from the Walt Disney Co. in 2019. When Sinclair and Disney announced the deal they said the networks were valued at $10.6 billion. The purchase price was $9.6 billion after adjusting for minority equity interests, the companies said. In addition to the Braves, Padres and Diamondbacks, the Diamond Sports Group broadcast games for the Reds, Guardians, Tigers, Royals, Angels, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals, Rays and Rangers.

The chief executive of Braves parent company Liberty Media, Greg Maffei, disclosed the team’s local TV deal at a conference in 2019. He said it was $83 million and rising to about $113 million in 2027.

-Staff writer Justin Toscano contributed to this article.