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June 24, 2024

Amazon Invests in Diamond Sports Group, Gains Streaming Rights for Live Sports

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Jan 18, 2024

Amazon has reached a deal to invest in Diamond Sports Group (DSG), the parent company of Bally Sports regional networks, as part of DSG’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. The deal provides Amazon with limited exclusivity to stream live games from certain leagues on Prime Video in local markets.

Background

DSG filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2022 amid struggles to meet debt obligations. The company owns broadcasting rights for live games from major sports leagues but has faced distribution challenges that limit viewership and revenue.

As part of the restructuring process, DSG has been seeking new investment and trying to renegotiate contracts with leagues and cable/satellite operators. Amazon emerged as a potential suitor over the past month through exclusive negotiations.

Deal Terms

Under the just-announced deal, Amazon will invest $100-150 million in DSG and join an investor group providing $2.1 billion in bankruptcy financing.

In exchange, Amazon gains the following streaming rights:

Sport League/Team Market
Baseball Baltimore Orioles Baltimore metro area
Baseball Cincinnati Reds Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia
Baseball Kansas City Royals Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri
Baseball Miami Marlins South Florida

| Baseball | Tampa Bay Rays | Florida (excl. Miami/Dade counties)
| Basketball | Milwaukee Bucks | Wisconsin |

The deal runs for an initial term of 5 years. Amazon has the option to extend further and potentially expand streaming rights to other teams and markets.

DSG retains broadcasting rights and will continue airing games on Bally Sports regional networks. But this non-exclusive partnership with Amazon provides additional distribution on Prime Video in local markets.

Implications

This investment from Amazon improves DSG’s financial outlook and the chances of emerging from bankruptcy. With a powerful tech giant showing confidence in RSNs, DSG bought itself more time to chart a sustainable long-term course.

For Amazon, this gives them a foothold with exclusive local live sports streaming rights. It’s an opportunity to evaluate interest, operational capabilities, and potential synergies with their other content offerings. Baseball may prove to be an ideal starter sport given the volume of games.

There is also an avenue for Amazon to take further control of DSG itself. They secured the right to appoint two members to DSG’s board of directors. So they now have a voice in major decisions about the future direction of Bally Sports networks.

What Happens Next

The deal sets the stage for a pivot towards direct-to-consumer streaming options for RSNs. But the immediate changes will be relatively minor for regular cable/satellite subscribers.

Bally Sports networks will continue operating as usual, likely with gradual additions of streaming and à la carte purchasing capabilities. Amazon will work to make select games available on Prime Video for local fans by the 2024 season.

If successful, Amazon may look to solidify control of DSG and significantly accelerate the streaming transition. For now, though, the partnership provides mutual benefits without drastic near-term disruption.

Both sides have incentives to make it work. And pro sports leagues will be watching closely to gauge fan reception to these streaming offerings in local markets. So while the long-term outlook brings uncertainty, this marks an incremental step towards inevitable changes in how live sports are delivered to fans.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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