MLB Bankruptcy Hearing Delayed: Uncertainty Looms for Cleveland Guardians, Texas Rangers, and Minnesota Twins

HOUSTON – The bankruptcy hearing that was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, which could have provided clarity on the fate of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams’ regional sports networks, has been postponed by 10 days. This delay suggests that both parties are hopeful they can reach an agreement without court intervention. However, the uncertainty surrounding the TV revenue for the Cleveland Guardians, Texas Rangers, and Minnesota Twins continues to loom as free agency unfolds.

Diamond Sports, the company in bankruptcy, currently holds the broadcast rights to 11 MLB teams’ TV broadcasts via its Bally-branded RSNs for the 2024 season. MLB has asked the court to compel Diamond to make decisions about the teams it will carry in 2024, and negotiations are ongoing with the assistance of a mediator to find a mutually acceptable solution.

During the courtroom discussions, it became apparent that three teams were the focus. The Texas Rangers and the Guardians, both World Series contenders, are intended to continue to be broadcast by Diamond in 2024, albeit on revised terms. The third team is the Minnesota Twins, which Diamond previously aired but no longer holds the rights to. Negotiations for a new agreement between Diamond and the Twins have been in progress since the expiration of their previous deal at the end of the last season.

Should Diamond continue to broadcast the Twins in 2024 without dropping any other MLB teams, their total count of teams carried would increase to 12. Diamond began the 2023 season with the broadcast rights to 14 teams but subsequently dropped the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. Both MLB and the teams involved are making efforts to prevent a similar scenario from occurring this year.

In addition to the three aforementioned teams, Diamond also holds the rights to broadcast games for nine other MLB teams, including the Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, and Detroit Tigers.

While Diamond currently plans to operate until 2024, whether the company will continue beyond that year remains uncertain. There have been indications of interest from Amazon, a prominent streaming service, in investing in Diamond. However, Diamond currently holds the digital streaming rights for only five MLB teams: the Brewers, Marlins, Rays, Royals, and Tigers. MLB officials have a preference for dealing directly with Amazon rather than expanding Diamond’s digital rights. The negotiations between MLB and Diamond have been ongoing, with the MLB stating that any agreement regarding additional digital rights would have to be made directly with them.

The rescheduled hearing for this bankruptcy case is now set for the morning of January 19 in Houston. The outcome of the hearing will determine the future of Diamond Sports and its role in broadcasting MLB games.