a new development: from ESPN - Bally's owner files for bankruptcy
Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair subsidiary that controls the regional sports networks for 42 teams across Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday night, three days before the end of a 30-day grace period it entered into with creditors.
As part of a news release, Diamond, which has more than $8 billion in debt, said it "intends to use the proceedings to restructure and strengthen its balance sheet" and that the RSNs "will continue to operate in the ordinary course during the Chapter 11 process." The company added that it possesses $425 million of cash on hand in order to continue funding its business during the process.
MLB, whose teams draw significant revenues from its RSN deals with companies like Sinclair, is the most directly impacted by Diamond's situation, given that its season will begin in less than three weeks. Diamond owns the rights to 14 major league teams and must continue to pay them their rights fees; otherwise, teams would be free to break their contracts, at which point MLB might take over broadcasting duties.
Sinclair, with Diamond acting as a subsidiary, purchased the RSNs from Fox in 2019, after Disney was forced to sell them off, for $10.6 billion. In the process, though, the company took on roughly $8 billion in debt, putting itself in a precarious position as the rate of cord-cutters increased.
Diamond, which initially began its grace period after skipping a $140 million interest-only payment to creditors in the middle of February, announced Tuesday it will now separate its business from Sinclair and become a standalone company. During bankruptcy proceedings, Diamond's debt will turn into equity for its secured creditors.
Diamond's hope to building a sustainable business, a source said, is to prop up its Bally Sports+ streaming platform, ideally by making it a one-stop shop for fans to also purchase tickets and merchandise, place bets and read up on their teams. Diamond owns streaming rights for all 16 of its NBA teams and all 12 of its NHL teams, but for only about a third of its MLB teams.