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#pounditTuesday, May 28, 2024

4 MLB teams are costing their TV partner big money

Rob Manfred at a press conference

Feb 17, 2019; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addresses representatives from the grapefruit league during the annual spring training media day at Hilton in West Palm Beach. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball may have to stream games for free in certain markets this year, and there are four teams that could wind up costing the league big money.

Josh Kosman of the New York Post reports that Diamond Sports, which owns the home broadcast rights to 14 MLB teams, is expected to file for bankruptcy on March 17. During the bankruptcy proceedings, the media company is planning to reject the contracts of four teams — the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres.

Diamond has been paying the aforementioned teams more in rights fees than it collects in return through cable contracts and advertisements, according to the Post. Diamond stands to lose $20 million annually on the Padres alone.

MLB is planning to take over local broadcasts for the teams that are losing money. The plan is to stream games for free in those markets while commissioner Rob Manfred negotiates with cable providers toward new, lower contracts. That could have a ripple effect on the rest of the league, as less profitable TV contracts would, in theory, negatively impact payrolls.

If Manfred is able to reach a deal with cable providers for the Reds, Guardians, Diamondbacks and Padres, a $15-per-month streaming package will reportedly be offered. That is much less than the $29.99 per month the Boston Red Sox charge and the $19.99 Bally Sports Regional Networks — which is owned by Diamond — charges in its markets.

MLB recently tried to acquire the rights to all 14 teams that have contracts with Diamond, but the media company turned it down.

There has been talk of the impending bankruptcy leading to MLB being able to fix one big issue, but it sounds like it could create others.

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