Thanks to Amazon Investment, Restructured Diamond Sports Group Will ‘Thrive Beyond 2024’

About a week after a potential deal between Amazon and Diamond Sports Group was shut down, presumably so MLB could facilitate its own takeover, the two sides have reached an agreement. Though Diamond holds broadcast rights for 11 teams — Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Guardians, Marlins, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Royals, and Tigers — it only holds streaming rights to the five in bold.

According to Josh Kosman of the New York Times, Amazon will invest around $100 million to stream those teams’ games directly to consumers via Prime. Between that, a $495 million litigation settlement from Sinclair, and $450 million in support from debt holders, Diamond has announced that it will restructure and come out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“We are thrilled to have reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement that provides a detailed framework for a reorganization plan and substantial new financing that will enable Diamond to operate and thrive beyond 2024,” Diamond CEO David Preschlack relayed in a statement. “We are grateful for the support from Amazon and a group of our largest creditors who clearly believe in the value-creating potential of this business. Diamond’s near-term focus will be on implementing the RSA and emerging from bankruptcy as a going concern for the benefit of our investors, our employees, our team, league and distribution partners, and the millions of fans who will continue to enjoy our broadcasts.”

The Amazon deal will also include some NBA and NHL games, as well as pre- and postgame content. A bankruptcy hearing is scheduled for Friday, but the New York Post reports that this plan could be presented to a judge on Wednesday. So what does this mean for the Cubs?

Probably nothing at all for the time being. Though Sinclair is a partner on Marquee Sports Network, the Cubs were never involved in the Diamond Sports Group mess that included various Bally (formerly Fox) Sports RSNs and won’t be impacted no matter how the whole bankruptcy plays out. Where the organization could really make out big, however, is in the continued evolution of sports streaming.

The Cubs very obviously missed the boat on broadcast rights while stumbling through the end stages of a patchwork deal that saw their games spread across multiple terrestrial outlets. Marquee’s launch was then stalled by a mix of poor planning and worse luck, as it launched at the start of spring training in 2020 and almost immediately lost its core product.

A little over three years later, Marquee launched a direct-to-consumer offering that allows Cubs fans to stream games and other content without a cable or satellite subscription. While the updated app is a little clunky — the CubsCon stream would freeze every 5 minutes or so — and game broadcasts are still subject to territorial blackout restrictions, this is a step in the right direction.

“We saw growing subscriptions each month, and that’s the interesting thing with DTC as opposed to cable,” Kenney told Meghan Montemurro of the Tribune. ”Typically cable subscribers are not turning their cable service on and off monthly based on their programming choices. This is very easy to do (with DTC), so you can watch based on the success of the club and the attractiveness of the channel.”

Now Kenney just needs to keep following his golden goose around until it starts laying eggs, which will happen when those territorial boundaries are softened or lifted entirely. MLB taking control of more broadcast rights brings that reality closer since there will no longer be a need to protect local broadcast partners and advertisers. That’s what it’s all about, by the way, not trying to drive more people to the ballpark on a daily basis.

In the meantime, it’ll be business as usual when it comes to where and how you access your Cubs games. If you happen to be a fan of the 11 teams listed above, particularly those five expected to have a new streaming home for 2024, you should know soon whether you’ll need to lock in a new favorite channel.

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