Amazon is partnering with Diamond Sports as part of a restructuring deal as the regional sports network's largest owner seeks to emerge from bankruptcy. Diamond owns 18 networks with rights to 37 professional teams under the Bally Sports banner. AP Photo/Lynn Sladke, File)
Jim Alexander: I'm reporting this morning from La Quinta and what we old-timers still consider a Bob Hope classic. Let's call it “The Hope” sponsored by American Express. And temperatures today will be in the 70s, or about 65 degrees warmer than where I was over the weekend. Temperatures in Detroit were poor, and weather delays made getting in and out of town even more difficult. I arrived home a day late, and my luggage arrived the next day. It's a good time.
Anyway, the first interesting item on today's list is the apparent marriage of Diamond Sports (aka Bally Sports Cable Network) and Amazon Prime. This includes a capital infusion (estimated at $115 million to start) to help Diamond survive Chapter 11 and survive the bankruptcy process. While it would be interesting for people in this market to watch the Angels, Kings, Ducks, and Clippers, I'm not convinced this is a long-term solution.
But what does this mean for local fans as well as the future of sports television? Amazon has already entered the sports tent with Thursday Night Football, and Apple TV+ and MLS will join it. Peacock put up huge numbers in last weekend's NFL playoff game and is providing exclusive coverage of Saturday's Chiefs vs. Dolphins game (excluding overtime). (airs TV in the team's market) and Sunday's simulcast of Rams vs. Lions with NBC suggests streaming will not just stay in sports programming, but could become a major player in future rights negotiations doing.
Or is it just a mirage? What do you think?
Mirjam Swanson: I wish I had a crystal ball to tell you that…and Friday's Mega Millions numbers. In fact, I'd like to keep it to myself.
But what does the future hold in terms of watching sports action on TV? Many seem to want things to go the streaming way, but this time with Diamond (aka Barry) and Amazon. The deal appears to force each league to maintain a partnership with its cable provider for the duration of the contract – instead of allowing MLB, NBA and NHL to exit as expected with Diamond's bankruptcy.
From what I've read, these leagues were looking forward to purchasing their respective products to bidders that are expected to include Amazon. However, Amazon's deal with Diamond means that its influence over these leagues will be significantly reduced after 2024.
What does that mean? If media rights revenues decline, will more owners like Mark Cuban be sold? or not? The whole situation is changing and fluid. Live sports viewers are still hungry and dedicated, but we're more fragmented. So…you really need a crystal ball to decide how to watch sports. Watching a baseball game for the first time in 5 years.
Gym: OK, here's where history changes. Imagine if the Pac-12's media rights deal had been signed at the end of the 2024-25 school year instead of the 2023-24 school year and was being negotiated now. Given what we know now, would the school have taken another look at the Amazon deal or sought offers from Apple TV+ or Peacock? In retrospect, that seems like a wasted opportunity. . The school wasn't interested in a low-guarantee contract, but was the potential for additional revenue based on subscriber numbers enough incentive to get the gang together?
To be honest, I don't know if the answer would have changed a year later. And that's right. He would be foolish to try to predict the future of sports viewing, and sports media contracts, even three to five years in advance. So I don't think “make money while you can” is a terrible strategy at all.
That's right, I'll be lining up at my local 7-Eleven tomorrow to get my winning ticket. (knickers)
On the other hand, when it comes to winning tickets, oh, we had very little faith when it came to the Clippers and James Harden. Anyway, I'm going to forgive Clipper Nation once again because it only took the team five games to add another star and find a way to make it work. The Clippers have become a much more fun team to watch these days. The players move, the ball moves, Harden facilitates, and the result is real basketball.
But Ivica Zubac being out for four weeks with a calf injury doesn't help at all. Is staying healthy all the time too much to ask of this team?
Miljam: I hate to break it to Lakers coach Darvin Ham, but basically no NBA team can stay healthy for more than a few games at a time during the season. As everyone knows, clippers are included.
And yes, Zu, the Clippers' reliable and ever-improving big man, is a big part of what they do. However, depth is accumulated in the central position. Mason Plumlee is back from injury and Daniel Theis is a dynamic and effective backup. So I think they can withstand Zubac's rare, no, unprecedented long absence.
Especially the way Harden, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard synchronize their games.
How long can they continue this good thing? If these three guys stay healthy, I wouldn't be surprised if they play big in the second half of the season.
Gym: Has anyone heard Russell Westbrook's words lately? I always thought that if there was a wild card in this experiment, it would be either Harden or Westbrook. Right now, Harden is comfortable enough to talk about ending his career as a Clipper (seeing is believing, though). Never grumpy and highly productive, Russ also contributes greatly to the production of this work.
And there are other teams in town as well. A week ago, the Lakers practiced in Phoenix and two nights later lost to Utah, where LeBron didn't play. This is their second straight win, and their run away from Dallas in the second half on Wednesday night was impressive. They were actually remarkable – finding the open man, getting out on fast breaks, doing things that strong teams do.
Can they keep it up for a while? Is this a mirage? Or will there be a trade that can jump-start this season the way Rob Pelinka's contract last year turned a struggling team into a conference finalist?
That's why we play 82 games, right?
Miljam: If the Lakers choose to use it, the team that made it to the Western Conference Finals will still be there. But for some reason, they have resisted actually running the team they were running this season. Austin Reeves was benched early, and then D'Angelo Russell was benched as well. Rui Hachimura's playing time is still limited.
But when they play, good things tend to happen.
In his case, DLo is averaging 27.3 points, 5.7 assists and shooting 53% from the field (52% from 3-point range) in his three games since returning to the starting lineup. And the Lakers won two of those games, with LeBron playing in both without much of a ball-handling burden.
Will Russell remain that hot? Probably not, but his presence is a plus for the Lakers, and the more he, Reaves, Hachimura, and Jared Vanderbilt can play alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron, the more the Lakers wanted them. The more you really lean into continuity, the better you'll be. They will be. There's no need to make major changes and start the process over again. But they need to be smart about how they utilize the talents they have.
Gym: Attention, Durvin Ham: Don't mess with your success.