Amazon poised to save bankrupt Diamond Sports with $100M deal to stream five MLB teams: sources

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By Dan Sears

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Amazon is poised to stream the games of five Major League Baseball teams this season after extending a roughly $100 million lifeline to bankrupt broadcaster Diamond Sports — and brush back MLB’s attempts to wrest control, The Post has learned.

Diamond — the nation’s largest regional sports network (RSN) with broadcast rights to 11 MLB teams, half the NBA teams and a third of the NHL teams — also is expected to get a separate half-billion dollar infusion after finalizing a settlement with parent company Sinclair, sources told The Post late Tuesday.

Amazon is planning to become a regional sports network for the first time. Sundry Photography – stock.adobe.com

The two new revenue streams will be presented to a Houston bankruptcy judge as early as Wednesday for expected approval — despite MLB’s potential objections, sources said.

Diamond owns the the streaming rights to five of the 11 MLB teams, but baseball commissioner Rob Manfred rejected Diamond’s proposed deal with Amazon for all 11 teams with the hope of negotiating his own contract with the streaming giant, as The Post previously reported.

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Last week, the bankruptcy judge gave Diamond an extension to find an alternative that would please its creditors, as The Post exclusively reported.

Diamond’s Bally Sports has the rights to many teams as shown on this 2019 map, though it no longer carries the Padres and Diamondbacks. Bally Sports

The new restructuring agreement would give Amazon an unspecified minority stake in Diamond after it emerges from bankruptcy in about three months, according to sources close to the negotiations.

It would also include the rights to stream all 162 games of the Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals, the Miami Marlins, the Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays as Amazon looks to expand into the lucrative sports market — on the heels of the success of last weekend’s streaming-only NFL playoff game between the Chiefs and Dolphins.

Amazon exclusively airs some NFL games and a handful of MLB games but has not yet entered the regional sports network business where it is the home of a local team for a full season.

Fans of the five baseball teams would have to get an Amazon Prime membership, which costs $14.99 a month, to stream their games.

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Diamond, which broadcasts under the Bally’s brand, will continue to televise the 11 MLB teams for which it has rights, including the World Series champion Texas Rangers, on cable. Though it may dump the Rangers and the Cleveland Indians before it emerges from bankruptcy, sources said.

The Post reached out to Diamond, Sinclair, Amazon and MLB for comment.

Amazon looks like it will soon be the streaming home of the Detroit Tigers featuring pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long. AP

Diamond has $8 billion in junior debt, which last week was trading at five cents on the dollar.

The junior creditors are expected to pay off almost all of the $650 million owed to the senior lenders with the windfall from the $495 million settlement with Sinclair Broadcasting and the Amazon infusion, according to the sources.

Diamond sued the publicly traded parent company for $1.5 billion for allegedly taking too much money out of the subsidiary in fees and dividends.

Through tax breaks and the fee it will collect in the transition agreement, Sinclair believes it will end up taking a $250 million to $350 million loss on the settlement, sources said.

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The junior creditors expect to take over Diamond with the blessing of the senior creditors and to run the business. Ultimately, they might sell Diamond to Amazon, the insider added.

Bally’s has agreed to drop its name from Diamond broadcasts after the 2024 baseball season, a source said.

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