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Broadcasting & Cable
Broadcasting & Cable
Daniel Frankel

Bally Sports Bankruptcy: Disney, Apple, Amazon and Google Reportedly Ready to Pounce on Any and All Abandoned NBA Local TV Deals

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers dribbles past CJ McCollum #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a game at Arena on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

As the Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring of Sinclair regional sports networks subsidiary Diamond Sports Group winds on, the process is done, for now, with renegotiating Diamond's money-losing Major League Baseball contracts, and it's about to start in on NBA and NHL team partners, which begin their respective seasons in a little over two months. 

And it appears to the humble Next TV that lawyers, PR folk or some other denizen(s) loyal to the National Basketball Association just might be working the national press to prep the ol' soil. 

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Disney, Apple, Amazon, Google and DirecTV are all lining up to possibly broadcast/cablecast/stream games locally for NBA teams who find themselves cast out of the Diamond's Bally Sports RSN kingdom, as Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks were last spring when they wouldn't "play ball" with Diamond's restructuring plan. 

Also read: Bally Sports Bankruptcy: Summer MLB Drama Gives Way to Fall Pay TV Carriage Wars

According to the Bloomberg report, which cites the always reassuring "people familiar with the matter" for sourcing, these big companies are only interested if enough NBA teams are cast out of the Bally Sports system. 

Following the departure last spring of the Phoenix Suns, 15 NBA teams remain in the Bally Sports ecosystem -- the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. 

The assumption is that at least a few of these teams have local TV rights deals with Diamond that are losing the subsidiary money ... and that Diamond will either use the leverage of Chapter 11 to convince these teams to restructure their deals, or otherwise tear up their contracts, just as they did with the MLB's Padres and Diamondbacks. 

Notably, Diamond has secured direct-to-consumer streaming rights with all of its NBA and NHL team constituents. Entering bankruptcy in March, it only had this DTC arrangement established with five of the 14 MLB teams in its Bally Sports portfolio at the time. 

So this could all be a big nothing burger. 

Regardless, someone, somewhere "familiar with the matter" wants us all to know that the NBA has local sports options -- big ones -- should Diamond decide to play hardball with them once NBA team payments for the 2023-24 season come due in the coming weeks. 

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