Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei addresses the impact of regional sports network struggles on Major League Baseball teams, including the Atlanta Braves, who rely on local television rights for much of their income.
In an analyst call, Maffei said the Braves receive payments from the owner of regional sports network Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair-affiliated parent company behind Bally Sports that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the impact it has had in the value of the local Major Sports rights of the Baseball League.
“We are lucky to have an incredibly strong territory: 14 million broadband homes, a fan base that is very appreciative of a very successful team, and a reasonable deal of what Diamond or Bally pays us,” he said after John. Malone’s Liberty Media released its second-quarter financial results on Friday.
Diamond Sports recently opted to skip payments to the San Diego Padres and a handful of broadcasts from other teams, and Maffei didn’t expect the Braves to be next.
“We think we are probably the most profitable RSN they have. Some of the others were less attractive as territories or as fan bases, or relatively less attractive relative revenue for Bally. And that’s why Bally fired them in bankruptcy proceedings,” Maffei continued.
He added that Bally was expected to continue paying the Braves, as both parties maintain contractual obligations, even when there were contingency plans if that changed. There is speculation that Diamond Sports will seek deals to reduce payments to unprofitable teams or eliminate them altogether as it appears to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
That could mean that local Braves TV rights could become available to others, including as part of a new business model involving streamers or other media platforms, if Bally doesn’t keep contractual payments.
“I don’t anticipate that happening for us. But if it happens, there will be other alternatives due to the strength of our product and the demand in our territory that will generate positive returns for us”, argued Maffei. Diamond operates 19 RSNs under the Bally Sports brand, with games played by more than half of all MLB, NBA and NHL teams.
Additionally, on July 18, Liberty Media completed a planned spin-off of the Braves and related assets into a separate public company, Atlanta Braves Holdings.
For the three months to June 30, overall Atlanta Braves Holdings revenue grew 8 percent to $270 million in the second quarter, and baseball revenue increased 8 percent to $255 million.
Liberty Media, which owns audio entertainment powerhouse SiriusXM, the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Formula One racing circuit, posted an overall revenue decline of just 0.18 percent to $2.25 billion. dollars in the second quarter.