Amazon could help Diamond Sports emerge from bankruptcy, but impact on MLB may be limited: Sources

Diamond Sports – the holder of the television rights to 11 MLB teams – and Major League Baseball are working on a deal that would create some certainty about which teams Diamond will or will not broadcast in the near term – specifically during the 2024 MLB season. for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and after 2024, it is possible that Diamond will be spun off as part of a reorganization plan.

But there is also the possibility that through the bankruptcy process, Diamond could continue to exist beyond 2024 in an altered form. Diamond and its creditors are in talks with its major streaming partner, Amazon, to create such a proposal, one that would ultimately need court approval, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Amazon’s investment potential in diamonds.

MLB and Diamond Sports declined to comment. Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One person familiar with the talks said negotiations were continuing and had produced positive momentum. But the potential impact on baseball is complex and limited.

Today, Diamond holds the rights to just under 40 teams across the MLB, NBA and NHL. If the deal goes through, Amazon will be able to stream bands for which Diamond holds the digital rights, or streaming rights as they are called instead. But more importantly, Diamond doesn’t own the digital rights to each of the teams it broadcasts over the air.

Diamond, through its various Bally-branded regional sports networks, currently carries telecasts for 11 MLB teams: the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and St. Louis. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Guardians, Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cincinnati. Reds, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers.

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But Diamond currently reportedly only holds the digital rights to five of those teams: the Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Brewers, and Rays.

So, even if Diamond and Amazon end up with a court-approved agreement, Diamond won’t be able to stream games through Amazon for any of its other MLB teams other than those five. Of course, other teams and MLB could negotiate with Diamond for access to expanded digital rights, but MLB and Diamond have not agreed on the value of MLB’s broadcast rights.

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(Photo: Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

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