Amazon will make a minority investment in Diamond Sports as part of a restructuring deal for the owner of 18 regional sports networks, including Bally Sports Kansas City, and could televise games on the Amazon Prime platform this year. Diamond Sports is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy with a debt of $8.67 billion, according to a 2021 filing.
The deal could give more fans access to in-market MLB games, something baseball has struggled with the last few years since Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of Diamond Sports, purchased several regional sports networks that broadcast baseball games.
Under the terms of the restructuring agreement, Amazon will make a minority investment in Diamond and enter into a commercial arrangement to provide access to Diamond’s content via Prime Video.
Customers will be able to access their local team’s content on Prime Video channels where Diamond has rights. Pricing and availability will be announced at a later date. Regional sports content will also remain available on cable and satellite providers.
Many details have yet to be reported or finalized, but the indications are that in-market Royals games would continue to be available through cable and satellite providers, but games, including pre- and post-game coverage, would also be made available for streaming through Prime Video.
It is not clear if this would be a standalone service customers could purchase or whether it will be an add-on that requires a subscription to Amazon Prime. It is also not clear whether or not Diamond Sports will continue to offer the Bally Sports app, which offered direct streaming content for fans. It is also not clear how this would affect blackout restrictions, if it affects it at all.
The deal is still subject to court approval, but it has the blessing of most major debt-holders, and includes a settlement between Diamond Sports and its parent company, Sinclair. There is still a court hearing next week to negotiate re-worked broadcast rights between Diamond Sports and MLB. Uncertainty over those agreements may be a factor in why some teams have been less active this off-season.