Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that the league would take over the broadcast rights for the Arizona Diamondbacks from Diamond Sports’ Bally Sports Arizona, effective immediately, and begin broadcasting D-backs games tonight, when Arizona visits the Atlanta Braves.
The league’s press release notes:
The new arrangement, which gives fans the option to watch on television or stream digitally, expands the availability of Diamondbacks games from approximately 930 thousand homes to approximately 5.6 million homes in the Diamondbacks Home Television Territory.
In addition to streaming, here’s where Diamondbacks games will be available:
Here’s more info on the streaming package:
As a result of the new arrangement, Diamondbacks fans can now obtain a new direct-to-consumer streaming subscription for $19.99 per month or $54.99 for the rest of the season by registering at MLB.TV. This offer is only for Diamondbacks fans in the Club’s Home Television Territory and is a separate service than the MLB.TV out of market package. By offering a direct-to-consumer streaming option on MLB.TV in the Club’s territory for the first time, MLB is able to lift the blackout for Diamondbacks games previously distributed on Bally Sports Arizona.
The league will continue to use broadcasters Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly, who were previously working for Bally Sports Arizona, and will make games through Sunday, July 23 available for fans in the D-backs market territory available for free.
“As Major League Baseball has proven with the Padres, we’re ready to produce and distribute games to fans, including Diamondbacks games starting today,” said Noah Garden, MLB Chief Revenue Officer, in a statement. “While we’re disappointed that Diamond Sports Group failed to live up to their contractual agreement with another Club, we are taking this opportunity to reimagine the distribution model, remove blackouts on local games, improve the telecast, and expand the reach of Diamondbacks games by 4.7 million homes.”
This is similar to the system the league created for Padres games. Here’s the background:
At the beginning of June, Major League Baseball took over the broadcast rights for the San Diego Padres, as part of the Diamond Sports bankruptcy filing involving the Bally Sports regional sports networks.
Instead of being on an RSN owned by someone else, Padres broadcasts are now being produced by MLB and offered as a standalone streaming option ($19.99 a month) as well as on a cable/satellite channel available to Padres fans in their local market territory.
This has, so far, worked out well for the league and Padres fans. As of the All-Star break, Padres games were watched by 578,000 unique people since MLB took over production and distribution. That is 14 percent higher than last year’s same time period (507,000 unique people) and 9.5 percent up (528,000) over the month in ’23 before MLB took over. This, despite the Padres not playing particularly well and possibly falling out of contention.
In the long run, I suspect MLB will wind up taking over more broadcast rights, especially from teams that have deals with Diamond Sports. Those include the Tigers, Marlins, Guardians, Reds, Royals, Cardinals, Twins, Brewers, Braves, Rangers, Rays and Angels. Some of those teams have had their rights payments made by Diamond Sports and others haven’t. We’re likely to hear about more deals like this as the 2023 season continues.
You’re probably wondering what this means for you, the Cubs fan, who would like to have an in-market streaming option for Marquee Sports Network. Last month, it was announced that Marquee would have such a streaming option, but no date was set (all that was said was “after the All-Star break”).
Hopefully, that will wind up being soon. If I get any information on this, of course I’ll post it here. And as always, we await developments.