Comcast-Diamond dispute ‘profoundly harmful,’ MLB says


Major League Baseball on Tuesday again ripped Diamond Sports Group’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy, this time as the carriage dispute between Diamond and Comcast reached the two-week mark.

Comcast Xfinity customers haven’t been able to watch Bally regional sports networks since last month as Diamond, which operates the Bally stations, and Comcast haggle over dollars. A dozen MLB teams, more than one-third of the league, are carried across those channels.

“This abrupt loss of carriage is profoundly harmful to MLB,” the league and some teams wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

The league positioned the Diamond-Comcast debacle as one of many reasons to be dubious of Diamond’s operation. Comcast reported 13.6 million video subscribers in the first quarter this year.

“Without incoming revenue from Comcast,” MLB’s filing continued, Diamond faces “substantially increased risk of shutting down altogether.” 

A spokesperson for Diamond declined comment when reached by The Athletic.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

For now, MLB’s streaming plans hinge on Diamond Sports Group’s bankruptcy case

Sports leagues will sometimes try to stay out of carriage disputes that affect their reach, but the Comcast-Diamond spat fits in a larger picture. MLB and Diamond have been at odds throughout Diamond’s 14-month bankruptcy process, which earlier this year appeared to have Diamond on a path to liquidation at the end of 2024. Amazon then stepped in as an investor in a plan that Diamond argues can keep the business viable beyond 2024, but MLB has repeatedly been skeptical in court. 

The league’s latest missive came Tuesday on the eve of a status conference hearing in federal bankruptcy court in Houston, set for 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday. MLB asked the court to address a bevy of questions it believes Diamond needs to better answer. The league is pressing for details of carriage agreements Diamond reached with Charter and DirecTV, as well as the status of negotiations Diamond is going through with the NBA and NHL.

The most significant court date looming is June 18, when the confirmation hearing for the plan is to be held. Objections, however, are due next week, on May 22. MLB suggested to the court that it is “difficult to imagine how confirmation can proceed on the current schedule.”

Despite its misgivings, MLB has not filed a formal objection to the court, and it’s unknown if the league will do so.

MLB tried appealing to fans’ sensibilities in the 13-page filing, listing “memorable, exciting and historic performances and games” that Comcast subscribers missed out on — one for each team carried by Comcast. 

Among those that the league cited:

  • “José Ramírez (Guardians) hitting a go-ahead home run to surpass Larry Doby for most go-ahead homers in club history; 
  • “The Royals reversing their struggles from 2023, playing terrific baseball and jockeying for their division lead.” 

MLB argued that preventing fans from watching those and other moments caused harm that “cannot be redressed simply with monetary damages.”

The 12 MLB teams carried by Diamond are the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers. 

Diamond carries 38 teams across MLB, the NBA and NHL.

(Photo: Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top