MLB prepares for Bally Sports bankruptcy by establishing an local broadcasting group
There’s been a lot of news about Bally Sports facing bankruptcy, and also Warner Bros Discovery’s AT&T SportsNet RSNs not paying their fees to leagues like the MLB, and closing up shop. That leaves the MLB in a touch situation. Since Bally Sports does have the rights to 14 baseball teams, that’s nearly half of the games in the MLB season. So obviously, the MLB needs to do something about it.
The MLB has said that they had a backup plan for when Bally Sports does declare bankruptcy, and now it looks like they are taking the next step. According to a report from the Associated Press, the MLB has set up a local broadcasting group. This includes multiple executives with experience in regional sports broadcasting. This is all in preparation of Bally Sports (and AT&T SportsNet) no longer airing their games.
So what happens next? Well, the MLB is waiting on Bally Sports. If the league is not satisfied with the debt servicing plan that Bally Sports presents at the end of the 30-day grace period, then the league can take back the rights of the teams that Bally Sports currently owns. This grace period began on February 15. So Bally Sports does still have a couple weeks left to get a deal that the MLB will like. But the MLB isn’t just sitting there waiting to see what happens.
The MLB has been planning for this, for quite some time
The MLB always seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to streaming. They were one of the first to launch their own streaming service in MLB.TV, which also had some of the best software for streaming – in fact, the WWE used it for the WWE Network when it launched in 2014.
The league has confirmed that it would use the MLB Network as well as MLB.TV to air the games if RSNs are unable to do so. Which means that for these teams, you’ll be able to watch games in-market. Versus the current way it works, where if you are in the Boston market, you can’t watch the Red Sox games on MLB.TV.
It really looks like the MLB is ready to cut ties with Bally Sports. Even if they do come up with a good offer for the MLB, they might just go it alone. However, RSNs do pay a pretty penny for sports rights. So that would likely be the only reason why this doesn’t happen.