Diamond Sports Holdings, which operates a number of regional sports channels under the Bally Sports name, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, just two weeks before the start of the Major League Baseball season.
Bally Sports has the rights to televise 14 MLB teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.
MLB created contingency plans to televise games for those teams through MLB Network and the MLB.TV app, but Diamond Sports Group is confident that will not be necessary.
“We are utilizing this process to reset our capital structure and strengthen our balance sheet through the elimination of approximately $8 billion of debt,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. “The financial flexibility attained through this restructuring will allow DSG to evolve our business while continuing to provide exceptional live sports productions for our fans.”
Bally Sports has the rights to televise 46 pro sports teams across the NBA, NHL and MLB.
On Feb. 15, a $140 million debt payment was due on $1.9 billion in rights fees across all sports. Diamond Sports Group was scheduled to make $600 million in payments this year on $8.6 billion of debt.
Multiple AT&T Sports Net regional networks also were in a similar position to Bally Sports. The Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates are televised in their local markets by AT&T Sports Net or by Root Sports. AT&T Sports Net has a minor stake in Root Sports Northwest, which airs Mariners games.
Those brands were expected to enter into Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
AT&T Sports Net/Root Sports broadcasts three NHL teams — Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken — and three NBA teams — Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz.
Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns AT&T Sports Net, is expected to leave the regional sports network business.
–Field Level Media