Major League Baseball rejects Amazon’s $150M bid to bail out bankrupt Diamond Sports: sources

Major League Baseball rejected a proposed roughly $150 million lifeline extended by Amazon to the nation’s largest regional sports network as it languishes in bankruptcy, The Post has learned.

Diamond Sports, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcasting, filed for Chapter 11 protection last March as the landscape for RSNs continued to suffer a seismic shift because of cord-cutting and the subsequent loss of advertising revenue, as The Post previously reported.

Amazon attempted to come to Diamond’s rescue last month by offering to invest roughly $150 million in the company and take over streaming broadcasts for the 11 baseball teams it carries, which include the World Series champs Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, a source close to the situation told The Post.

However, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called foul on the proposal ahead of a bankruptcy hearing slated for Wednesday, the insider said.

“They rejected it because Amazon wanted a streaming deal for more than one year,”  the source told The Post.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is pitching around Amazon’s deal to invest in Diamond so MLB can possibly strike its own deal with Amazon in 2025. Getty Images

“Manfred said if you want a digital deal it will be with us.”

MLB and Amazon declined comment.

At the upcoming bankruptcy hearing in Houston, MLB will offer Diamond a deal that reduces the media rights fees it pays for three of the 11 teams in exchange for MLB gaining the digital rights for all Diamond teams in 2025, sources said.

The bankrupt company could reject the MLB proposal and still try to work out a deal with Amazon, a Diamond lender said, but that would be difficult.

Diamond, which broadcasts games under the Bally’s brand, currently has digital rights to five of the 11 teams, aside from the TV rights.

“Diamond was trying to renegotiate with baseball to get digital rights on a long-term basis [for all the 11 teams] so they could bring in Amazon,” the source said

But it seems like MLB wants to cut out Diamond and strike its own streaming deals with Amazon or Apple starting in 2025.

Both streaming giants currently have deals with MLB to broadcast select teams, including the Yankees.

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

“I think Amazon would like to do a digital deal with Major League Baseball,” the source familiar with the MLB discussions said.

Amazon’s bid for Diamond’s portfolio – first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 18 – comes as the Yankees-owned YES Network and the James Dolan-controlled MSG announced Jan. 4 they have formed a partnership which could lead to them offering Yankees, Knicks, Nets and Rangers games on the same streaming site.

Bankrupt Diamond owns the media rights for the World Champion Texas Rangers and would like to sell the streaming rights to Amazon. Getty Images

There is also speculation a combined YES and MSG could start bidding for the media rights of teams from out of the area, an industry source said.

Meanwhile, the NBA and NHL have already worked out plans to retain digital rights from Diamond starting in the 2024-25 season. 

Diamond owns the media rights to about half the NBA teams and a third of the NHL clubs.

Sinclair has made its own offer to buy Diamond in exchange for the RSN dropping a $1.5 billion lawsuit against the parent company for saddling it with debt and charging excessive fees, as The Post reported exclusively, 

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