Diamond Sports, parent of Poly Sports Regional Networks, files for bankruptcy protection

Diamond Sports, the parent of Poly Sports Regional Networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, but said in a statement that its 19 regional sports channels will continue to operate without interruption. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Diamond’s own parent, Sinclair, has been reeling from more than $8 billion in debt since its 2019 acquisition of RSN.
  • Fears that its 14 teams carried by Poly would be dropped by the diamond have fueled the leagues, especially MLB. That doesn’t seem to be happening.
  • The prepackaged bankruptcy, which is still being negotiated with creditors, is expected to reduce Diamond’s debt by $8 billion and sever the company from Sinclair Broadcasting.

Backstory

Diamond Sports Group will “continue to broadcast games and connect fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond CEO David Breschlock said in a statement. “With the support of our creditors, we look forward to executing a swift and efficient restructuring and emerging from the restructuring process as a stronger company.”

Many expected Diamond to dump some RSNs that weren’t economical, and that doesn’t seem to be the case now. However, Diamond’s Arizona affiliate, Diamond Sports Net Arizona, filed its own Chapter 11. It’s unclear what that means for the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that didn’t pay on time last week. Skyler Carroll, a bankruptcy attorney, said all RSNs are required to file separately, but their paperwork is not complete.

According to Diamond Chapter 11, AZPB, Diamondbacks parent, is the sports media company’s fourth-largest creditor, at $30.8 million. No other teams are listed. College sports media company Raycom Sports Network is listed as owed $8.5 million.

According to Diamond’s Chapter 11 filing, a four-person “conflict team” is helping run the company during Chapter 11: Preschlack, former NFL COO Maryann Turcke, former Fox Sports executive Randy Freer and former Vulcan Sports executive Robert Whitsitt.

Diamond Sports and AZPB’s petitions list assets and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion each. The cases have been filed in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Diamond’s 19 owned and operated RSNs include PolySports Arizona, PolySports Detroit, PolySports Florida, PolySports Great Lakes, PolySports Indiana, PolySports Kansas City, PolySports Midwest, PolySports New Orleans, Philly Sports, Philly Sports. Ohio, Bally Sports Oklahoma, Bally Sports San Diego, Bally Sports SoCal, Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southeast, Bally Sports Southwest, Bally Sports Sun, Bally Sports West and Bally Sports Wisconsin. Bally Sports RSNs broadcast 42 NBA, NHL and MLB teams.

Major League Baseball released a statement Tuesday night saying that “(Diamond) has every expectation that they will continue to televise all games during the bankruptcy proceedings” and that the league “is prepared to produce games in their local markets and distribute them to fans” by Diamond or any other regional sports network in accordance with the agreement with our clubs. If unable to do so.”

“Having streamed live games on MLB.TV for more than 20 years and producing live games for MLB Network since 2009, we have the experience and capabilities to seamlessly deliver games to fans,” the league’s statement continued. “Furthermore, we have hired additional experienced local media professionals to enhance our capabilities in anticipation of this growth. In the long term, we will reshape our distribution model to address the changing media landscape and ultimately reach an even greater number of fans.”

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(Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)

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