ST. PETERSBURG — Barry's financial troubles could soon lead to more viewing options for Rays and Lightning fans.
Diamond Sports Group, which owns Bally Sports Florida and Bally Sports Sun and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, has reportedly sold $100 million in stock to Amazon. It is expected that live games will be available to watch on the Prime streaming service.
There weren't many details provided Wednesday, and the deal still needs bankruptcy court approval, but it appears the Rays could be the first team to capitalize on Prime's interest in sports programming.
The Rays, along with the Marlins, Brewers, Royals and Tigers, included streaming rights in their latest deals with Barry. So these five teams participated in the soft launch of his Bally streaming app last summer, and they will obviously be among his first teams to debut on Prime.
While this may be good news for fans who have turned down cable TV contracts, the economics of this plan are not yet clear. Amazon Prime sells for $139 a year or $14.99 a month, but it's unclear whether there will be additional fees for sports programming. The Bally app costs $19.99 per month, but the company hasn't said whether viewers will be able to watch the games on Prime.
Currently, Spectrum customers have access to the Bally app, but it's unclear if that will extend to Prime as well. For those and many other questions, Barry is essentially asking fans to pay attention.
“Prime Video will be Diamond's primary partner through which customers can purchase direct-to-consumer access to stream local Diamond channels,” Diamond's press release states. “Customers will have access to all local (direct-to-consumer) content, including live MLB, NBA and NHL games and pre- and post-game programming for teams for which Diamond holds the (streaming) rights. ”
Barry also has streaming rights to the Lightning, but that contract is set to expire after this season as part of last year's bankruptcy negotiations. With the season now in its final stages, there may not be enough time to get approval from a bankruptcy judge to make the 2023-24 games available on Prime. NHL teams like Barry, Amazon and the Lightning could probably negotiate a new contract for next season.
Diamond currently has contracts with 37 teams in the NHL, MLB, and NBA. Last year, MLB took over broadcasting games between the Diamondbacks and Padres after Bally's companies failed to pay broadcast rights.
The deal with Amazon could include an additional $50 million investment and should allow Diamond to pay off some creditors and avoid a full liquidation. Parent company Sinclair also plans to provide nearly $400 million in funding.
This report used information from other news organizations.
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