Diamond spox: "We are pleased to have reached agreements with the Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers that work for all parties and enable us to continue delivering high-quality, live game broadcasts on Bally Sports to dedicated fans through the 2024 season.”— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 2, 2024
Well, if you’ve been waiting with bated breath for liberation from Bally Sports North — the Diamond Sports-owned regional network that launched in 2021 and almost immediately bankrupted itself — you’re going to have to wait just a little bit longer.
It’s a one-year stopgap solution for these organizations, whose expiring contracts are lining up with a more exciting landscape of television dealings next winter, when a larger coalition of “free agent” clubs will align with the league office’s interests in making games more accessible to a new generation of fans. In the meantime, though, the game needs to be televised somewhere — in this case, it’s back to Bally Sports North.
Diamond today asked the court to approve 1-year deals with the Guardians, Rangers and Twins. They'll be broadcast by Bally in 2024. (Anything further would require more negotiation. Diamond didn't have those team's digital rights before and does not now.) https://t.co/aT9hanyLlP— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 2, 2024
Per the Star Tribune, the deal certainly won’t reach the $54 million in rights fees that Bally provided the Twins last season, but it won’t be nothing, either, and may provide the front office with some additional resources as we head down the stretch towards opening day.
The Athletic recently indicated that the Cleveland Guardians and Texas Rangers saw a ~15% cut to their expected fees, although it’s notable that those clubs were re-negotiating existing deals and not entering conversations for a new one-year contract the way Minnesota was.
As mentioned in the above tweet, the agreement is also pending approval in federal bankruptcy court.
Also of note — the Twins batted around the idea of providing their own direct-to-consumer offering, but that possibility won’t come to fruition until at least 2025. It’s not clear whether this provision would exclude Bally from providing an in-market MLB.TV offering for the Twins, or including Twins games as an add-on as part of their Amazon Prime arrangement.
While this technically qualifies as news, it’s another frustrating development that seems to happen on an annual basis — that spring training games are right around the corner, and your average Twins fan has no idea how to watch the regular season once it begins.
Nonetheless, whether via DirecTV, Amazon Prime, or some other, mysterious third option, Bally Sports North will be producing Cory Provus’ first year as Minnesota’s TV play-by-play man.
Aren’t you guys excited?!?!?!!?!?!