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Thursday, March 23, 2023

What The Bally Sports Bankruptcy Filing Means For Dallas Mavericks Fans

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Diamond Sports Group, the owner of 21 regional sports networks operating under the name Bally Sports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week. Those networks have the rights to 42 professional teams, including the Dallas Mavericks.

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The filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas comes after the group missed a $140 million interest payment last month. Diamond expects to continue day-to-day operations at all its RSNs as it works to restructure and eliminate $8.67 billion in debt and form a separate company from Sinclair Broadcast Group

“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 a statement. “We look forward to working constructively with our team and league partners and all DSG stakeholders throughout this process and beyond.”

For now, nothing will change for fans who want to watch the Mavericks play on Bally Sports Southwest during the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the NBA Playoffs. ABC, ESPN and TNT have exclusive NBA playoff rights after the first round.

While Mavericks games will still air on Bally, many fans still don’t have access to the network. Bally Sports Southwest is still unavailable on YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Dish, Sling TV and other popular streaming services. For cord-cutters, DirecTV Stream and FuboTV are the only streaming providers that carry the network in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The access headaches for fans caused Mavericks governor Mark Cuban to partner with DirecTV Stream and offer discounted service in November 2021. Cuban arranged for the first 10,000 new DirecTV Stream subscribers who signed up for a Choice package or higher to receive a $50 per month credit for each month of maintained service for up to five months.

The offer didn’t carry over to the 2022-23 NBA season.

Overall, the NBA has remained relatively quiet on the financial troubles of its largest television partner. The league reportedly renewed its deal with Diamond Sports Group to stream 16 of its teams locally on the Bally Sports+ streaming service. The arrangement runs through the 2024-25 season and consists of a series of one-year deals with more than a dozen conditions attached that Diamond must meet.

Sinclair bought the regional sports networks that would become Bally Sports from The Walt Disney
Co. for nearly $10 billion in 2019. The Department of Justice required Disney to sell the networks as part of the approval process for acquiring 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets.

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