Major League Baseball has a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
The league will stream games of roughly six teams for free following the expected bankruptcy of Diamond Sports Group, which owns and operates the 19 Bally’s regional sports networks, according to the New York Post.
“If any of the RSNs are no longer able to produce local games, we will be in a position to step in to produce and distribute those games with linear and direct-to-consumer options,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden told Front Office Sports last week.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has previously suggested that MLB could broadcast its games on its MLB Network channel to provide a linear option. The MLB.tv service would be used for streaming.
That would allow MLB to stream games in each local market, which it has been unable to do under local broadcast contracts with Diamond and others.
“If MLB takes over local distribution in any market, our goal would be to allow for both a linear option and a direct-to-consumer streaming service, which would remove the blackout in that market,” said Garden.
Diamond reportedly plans to use its coming bankruptcy filing to cut off its contracts with at least four teams to whom it pays more in rights fees than it makes in cable subscriptions and ad revenue: the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, San Diego Padres, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Diamond would lose $20 million on its Padres contract this year.