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NHL Franchises Brace for Impact as Bally Sports Owner Declares Bankruptcy

The largest owner of local sports networks, Diamond Sports Group, disclosed on Tuesday that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The action was taken as a result of last month’s $140 million interest payment default.

In order to maintain operations throughout bankruptcy, Diamond, which operates 19 networks under the Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks, claimed to have around $425 million in cash on hand. These networks are authorized to air matches from 42 professional clubs, including 14 in baseball, 16 in the NBA, and 12 in the NHL.

“DSG will continue broadcasting games and connecting fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond Sports CEO David Preschlack said in the statement.

According to the corporation, it filed for bankruptcy in the Southern District of Texas and is currently negotiating a new deal that will wipe off the majority of its approximately $8.67 billion in debt. As part of the agreement, Diamond Sports would separate from its present parent firm, Sinclair Media Group.

Bally Sports

In 2019, Sinclair paid about $10 billion to acquire the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company. Following Disney’s acquisition of a sizable portion of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, the U.S. Department of Justice compelled Disney to sell the RSNs.

In the first quarter of this year, Diamond owes roughly $1 billion in rights payments, primarily to baseball teams. Hockey and basketball clubs have received their payments from the corporation on time, but certain baseball teams with whom it is attempting to renegotiate a better contract may not receive their money.

According to reports, if RSNs are unable to air NHL games, the NHL will follow in MLBs plan to offer in-market streaming through the NHL’s out-of-market streaming service.

While broadcasts won’t be in danger right away, this is only a temporary fix for a far bigger issue. Local sports broadcasting rights and streaming services have emerged as lucrative revenue streams for networks. MSG announced the debut of a streaming service late last year as a cord-cutting option to watch the Knicks and Rangers that would cost $20 to $25 per month. And it’s still being worked on. As for Bally Sports, it appears that a difficult time is coming.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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