Proposals on table, but no deal imminent to return Braves games to Comcast

Fans are seen before the Braves home opening day game versus the Diamondbacks at Truist Park in Atlanta on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /



Fans are seen before the Braves home opening day game versus the Diamondbacks at Truist Park in Atlanta on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Arvin Temkar /

Proposals from each side are on the table.

It’s now a matter of when and which one will be accepted.

In the meantime, customers of cable provider Comcast/Xfinity still can’t watch Braves games as the impasse with Diamond Sports, the owner of Bally’s regional sports networks, stretches into a second week with no end in sight.

“It’s unfortunately something that is all too common in our industry,” Bally Sports South/Southeast General Manager Jeff Genthner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You do your best to keep the signal on and the service uninterrupted for the common customer while you work through the issues. We were disappointed when the signal came down last week. We know that the result of that is a significant burden and inconvenience for the many Braves fans across the Southeast.”

Bally Sports South and Southeast in Atlanta are part of 15 regional sports networks nationwide that had to come off Comcast when the contract expired on May 1. Bally Sports South and Southeast also broadcast the Hawks.

As a recap:

*Diamond Sports is emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed last year. As it works through the process, it is trying to secure long-term deals with providers. It has reached agreement with three of the seven biggest providers in Charter, DirecTV and Cox. Comcast is now a significant missing piece along with others such as Dish, YouTube TV and Hulu Live TV. The next hearing in the bankruptcy case is set for June.

*Comcast is working on deals with regional sports networks to have their content placed on a tier system. This provides subscribers with the opportunity to pay an extra fee for the sports content while eliminating it from a basic package. Such deals have been worked for the Orioles and Nationals (Mid-Atlantic Sports Network), the Pirates (SportsNet Pittsburgh) and the Mariners (Root Sports Northwest). Major League Baseball has stepped in to help deals with distributors, including Comcast, for the Diamondbacks and Rockies.

The deal between Comcast and Diamond expired in September. After a six-month extension was agreed upon, it took effect in October with an expiration date of April 30. Diamond had the opportunity to extend that agreement to a year but did not choose to do so by a March deadline. That meant the end of the rights expired on May 1.

According to each side, the proposals are on the table. The agreement Diamond struck with Charter, DirecTV and Cox is on the table for Comcast. The previous working agreement and the tier agreement Comcast struck with carriers in other markets is on the table for Diamond. So far, there is no indication on how close an agreement the sides are from reaching an agreement.

Genthner said Diamond is looking for longer-term deals.

“Part of the plan to emerge from Chapter 11 is to secure longer-term deals with distributors,” he said. “There is certainty in longer terms – for distributors, for teams like the Braves, and, most importantly, for fans to not have to do this every six months, nine months, 10 months. That’s really what we are trying to do here.”

Comcast continues to work toward a tier system and reiterated that it will refund customers affected by the situation.

“Bally Sports chose not to exercise a right to extend their contract and they declined multiple offers so now we no longer have the rights to their programming,” Comcast’s John Demming told the AJC. “Nearly 70 percent of our customers who received these networks didn’t watch them. We are moving forward with our plan to proactively credit millions of customers for the costs associated with them – most will automatically receive $8 to 10 per month in credits.”

Each side currently has websites for viewers to go for more information.

Comcast has established Available on the site is a 30% discount to streaming service Fubo, which carries Bally’s networks.

Bally’s has established to provide answers to questions and updates on the situation.

The Braves continue to monitor the situation.

“Carriage disputes are sort of commonplace, unfortunately, and we don’t like the fact that this carriage dispute is going on,” Braves CEO Derek Schiller said this week in a call with Atlanta Braves Holdings Inc. shareholders. “We’re not a party to it, and we’re hoping that Comcast and Bally’s get together.

“We’re obviously monitoring the whole (Diamond Sports Group) bankruptcy proceedings and doing our part to protect our rights,” Schiller said. “At this point in time, Diamond/Bally’s is fulfilling their terms with us, including full payment. But if the (TV) rights come back to us, we are very optimistic because ... we have a very large territory, one of the largest in sports. There’s huge demand on the team, and we believe there’s more optimism than pessimism with the future of Braves television rights in that marketplace.”

Earlier this week, Bally’s released an open letter to fans on the situation. Part of the letter called for Comcast subscribers to contact the provider to voice their displeasure with the current situation.

“People who read the Sports section are vocal and they want to be heard,” Genthner said. “Sports fans can be activists as opposed to passive. We just acknowledge that passion and we want them to have their voice heard. And if they want to direct their voice to us, we want to hear it; if they want to direct it to Xfinity we want that to be heard as well.”