The deal still needs bankruptcy court approval. At Wednesday's hearing, lawyers for Major League Baseball and the NBA said they had just heard about the plan and needed to consider it.
Diamond Sports filed for bankruptcy early last year, plunging the regional sports network ecosystem into uncertainty and, with it, the finances of many teams. The company owns the rights to broadcast games for 11 MLB teams, 15 NBA teams, and 11 NHL teams on the Bally Sports Network. Last season, Diamond Sports rejected television deals for the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, prompting Major League Baseball to step in and take control of the broadcasts.
MLB seeks stability amid complex broadcasting turmoil
Teams like the Minnesota Twins and World Series champion Texas Rangers are currently deciding on offseason rosters without clarity on future broadcast revenue. Local television rights have long been a major source of revenue for teams, particularly in MLB, and have helped boost player salaries and team ratings.
Under the proposed arrangement, Prime Video would be Diamond Sports' primary partner through which viewers could purchase direct-to-consumer access to stream local games. It's unclear if these games will be available through a Prime Video subscription or if Amazon will charge an additional fee.
Diamond currently owns the digital rights to five MLB teams (Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, and Tampa Bay Rays), as well as their NBA and NHL teams. If the deal is approved, their games will be available for streaming through Amazon Prime.
Amazon has expanded its sports rights portfolio in recent years. The company pays about $1 billion to broadcast the NFL's “Thursday Night Football” schedule and also has exclusive coverage of several New York Yankees games. As part of the deal proposed Wednesday, the company will become a minority investor in Diamond Sports.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post.
Major League Baseball is more likely than the NBA or NHL to respond to the Diamond's rebuilding plan, as Commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed interest in collecting more teams' digital rights and selling them directly to distributors. They are more hostile than others. The league can object to the settlement, but the final decision on whether to accept the settlement will be made by the court.
Before Wednesday's announcement, there were concerns from bankruptcy officials that Diamond did not have a viable future due to a combination of crippling debt burden and continued erosion of its cable business due to cord-cutting. Ta. With its investment in Amazon and its settlement with former parent company Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which was also part of the restructuring plan, Diamond at least sees a chance to move forward.
“This agreement provides a detailed framework and significant new financing for Diamond's restructuring plan that will enable Diamond to operate and grow its business through 2024 and beyond,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in a statement. We are excited to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement.” “We are grateful for the support from Amazon and a group of our largest creditors who clearly believe in the value creation potential of this business.”
This story has been updated.