On MLB’s rejection of the Amazon/Diamond streaming proposal

MLB’s rejection is also them showing their hand on their preference for the future of broadcasting.

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You saw the headline, now let’s get to some background. From me on December 22, at Baseball Prospectus:

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Notes: MLB broadcasting and Amazon, Tinyletter

The latest on the Diamond broadcasting issue, as well as some newsletter housekeeping notes.

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Here we go, the final newsletter for 2023. Thanks for reading through what has been a year that involved a lot more stadiums and a lot less labor-specific news than expected. But don’t worry, MLB deciding to mess with workers of one kind or another is a tradition they don’t plan on leaving behind forever.

***

Earlier this week, it was reported that Diamond Sports Group, which runs the Bally regional sports networks, was seeking a way back to the kind of profit they were hoping for by negotiating a partnership with Amazon. This would allow them to rely less on the shrinking cable market, and by moving onto one of the streaming video platforms with the most subscribers. Amazon Prime Video has 200 million subscribers, with Netflix (247 million) having more, Disney+ behind at 150 million, Paramount Plus at 63 million, Hulu at 48 million, Peacock 28 million, ESPN+ 26 million, Apple TV 25 million. Amazon Prime Video is massive, is the point, with only the original streamer ahead (and also the only one not tied mostly to their own original content). If Diamond is going to partner with anyone in the space, Amazon makes the most sense, especially since they’ve already successfully partnered with the NFL for Thursday Night Football.

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Round-up: Diamond bankruptcy, WBC pitchers, cheap owners

Diamond finally declares bankruptcy, Team USA is struggling with pitching restrictions, and Bomani Jones has something to say to MLB’s cheap owners.

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We’ve got a few things to catch up on, so let’s hit the ground running.

Diamond declares bankruptcy

We knew it was going to happen eventually, but Diamond, the owners of Bally Broadcasting, which serves as the regional broadcasting network for a not insignificant number of MLB’s teams, declared bankruptcy. That sounds scary on the surface, but as I wrote about a few weeks back, it’s more of a sign of things to come than it is a notice of an interruption of how you consume baseball in 2023. Here’s Sportico’s Brendan Coffey with an explanation and quotes:

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Diamond is probably going away, but broadcasting should remain

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There sure seems to be trouble in regional sports network land, and the question of the day is how it will end up impacting Major League Baseball and the payments owed to them by various RSNs. There’s the well-publicized issue of what’s going on with Diamond Sports Group, which runs Bally Sports, as they announced they’re skipping a $140 million interest payment, which now gives them a 30-day grace period to figure out if they’re going to make said payment or file for bankruptcy instead. Alongside that, though, is AT&T Sports, which is run by Warner Media, and has possibly already missed out on its first slate of payments for broadcasting games. Possibly, because there have already been denials from AT&T Sports, on the matter, but we can at least treat that as a potential where there’s smoke there’s fire situation until things are known for sure one way or the other. [2/20/2023 note: This article originally linked to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here, but the Post-Gazette staff is on strike. Apologies for the oversight; the link has been removed.]

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