NBA’s Silver on the Bally Sports RSN Crisis: ‘Short-Term, I’m Not All That Concerned’
Any disruption from a seemingly imminent bankruptcy filing would come 'with not all that much left in the regular season,' commissioner said
While his Major League Baseball counterpart, Rob Manfred, seems to be making contingency plans should Bally Sports regional sports networks stop paying their TV rights bills to teams, NBA commissioner Adam Silver came off a bit more sanguine regarding the potential bankruptcy disruption.
With the pro basketball regular season winding down, Silver has that luxury.
“Short-term, I’m not all that concerned,” Silver told reporters during league All-Star Game activities over the weekend in Salt Lake City. “It largely affects the regular season for the NBA in terms of distributing, delivering those games directly to our consumers. And if they were to indeed, you know, file for bankruptcy, there won’t be that much of the regular season left."
Diamond Sports Group, the heavily indebted subsidiary that manages 19 Bally Sports-branded channels for Sinclair Broadcast Group, skipped a $140 million all-interest debt payment on February 15, a move putting the unit on a trajectory to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-March.
if and when that were to occur, Diamond could immediately stop paying any of its pro sports franchise partners their TV rights money.
For his part, Manfred said last week that the MLB is prepared to step in, terminate its Diamond Sports contracts, and broadcast pro baseball games locally for the 14 affected teams itself this spring and summer.
However, the last day of the NBA regular season is April 9, with all postseason games shown nationally under contracts with Warner Bros. Discovery and The Walt Disney Co. So if Diamond stopped paying the 16 NBA teams it partners with on March 15, there’d be less than a month of games left to disrupt.
“For that period of time, we will have in place arrangements, if necessary, to continue to distribute those games to fans,“ Silver said. ”So I think that’s what’s most important.”
Meanwhile, speaking during his league's all-star festivities earlier this month in South Florida, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remarked: “They are suggesting that there isn’t an imminent financial crisis, that they’re trying to reorganize their business and move forward effectively, and so that the clubs will continue to get paid and the games will continue to be distributed. But we are obviously monitoring it very closely and exploring, at least theoretically, what the options may be in the event the worst were to happen.” ■
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!