As expected, Diamond Sports Group as of late Thursday night had not made its overdue rights payment to the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving the team short tens of millions of dollars with just two weeks to go before Opening Day.
While Diamond, the owners and operators of Bally Sports Arizona and 18 other regional sports networks, had been granted a two-week grace period after missing the original deadline with the MLB club, DSG let the term elapse without making good on its delinquency.
The DSG bankruptcy filing indicates that the D-backs are the company’s fourth largest creditor, at $30.8 million. In 2015, the franchise inked a 20-year rights deal with DSG precursor Fox Sports said to be worth some $1.5 billion.
A source with first-hand knowledge of the situation confirmed that no payment had been made, before noting that there was little the D-backs could do to address the financial snub, given that DSG is now embroiled in a Chapter 11 reorganization. For its part, DSG has indicated that it intends to continue producing and televising games for all of its pro sports partners, and that fans will have access to their local teams throughout the bankruptcy proceedings. It is also expected to keep up with its payments to the other 13 MLB teams under contract.
Also listed as a top creditor is DirecTV, which is owed $40.1 million. Antagonizing the nation’s third-largest pay-TV operator may only accelerate DSG’s carriage issues; in an 83-page document released Wednesday morning, the company revealed that it has lost 9.8 million linear TV subscribers since 2020, as its overall base dropped from 50.4 million customers to 40.6 million.
Thus far, the company’s streaming product has done little to compensate for all those linear TV losses. Since hard-launching its Bally Sports Plus app last September, DSG has amassed 200,000 direct-to-consumer subs. In June 2021, Sinclair projected that its DTC service would eventually attract 4.4 million subscribers and generate around $2 billion in annual revenue.
Subscription fees were expected to account for half of that revenue target, while advertising would make up the other $1 billion.
The Buffalo Sabres are the only other pro sports team listed among DSG’s creditors. The NHL club and its owner/operator Hockey Western New York are out $30,100.