Comcast cable customers lose access to Bally Sports regional networks

Comcast customers were left in the dark as negotiations between the cable provider and Bally Sports’ operator, Diamond Sports Group, hit a snag. This dispute resulted in a blackout of the regional networks, leaving fans of 11 MLB teams without access to local games. The affected teams include the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, with the potential for NBA and NHL fans to feel the impact in the next seasons.

The breakdown in negotiations underlines the challenges faced by regional sports networks in an era where consumers are shifting towards streaming services. Comcast, which provides cable and internet services under the Xfinity brand, cited disagreements over terms as the reason for the blackout.

Diamond Sports Group, operating under bankruptcy protection since last year, expressed disappointment in Comcast’s refusal to engage in meaningful discussions. The company emphasized its commitment to fans and expressed hope for a resolution to restore broadcasts.

While Comcast offered affected customers monthly credits as compensation, the root of the issue lay in disagreements over the distribution model. Diamond Sports sought to transition to a tiered model, requiring customers to opt into packages that include Bally Sports channels at a higher rate.

Amidst the turmoil, Diamond Sports managed to secure multiyear deals with other providers such as Charter Communications and Cox Communications. DirecTV also reached an agreement with Diamond, ensuring the continued carriage of the networks. These deals, while extending the current agreements, also signaled a shift towards a tiered model over time.

Despite these developments, major internet-TV providers like Google’s YouTube TV and Disney’s Hulu+ Live TV are yet to carry Bally Sports networks. The absence of these channels from key streaming platforms underscores the challenges faced by regional sports networks in adapting to changing consumer preferences.

As Diamond Sports Group navigates through bankruptcy proceedings, the company remains focused on emerging stronger under the ownership of its creditors. With a reorganization plan set for confirmation in June, the largest operator of regional sports networks is poised to weather the storm and provide fans with access to their favorite teams’ games.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

Back To Top