Twins matches will be broadcast on Bally Sports North again in 2024
A shift in the way baseball fans watch Twins games is coming.
Just not this year.
The Twins have reached a one-year deal with Bally Sports North and its bankrupt parent company, Diamond Sports Group, to broadcast its games on cable and satellite systems through the 2024 season, a source familiar with the deal confirmed Friday. But the team’s much-publicized plan to offer a streaming option to non-BSN subscribers will, under the new contract, wait until at least 2025.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is expected to include a sharp cut in the $54 million BSN paid to the team last season.
The agreement gives the Twins assurances that fans will have access to their games this year, a pressing need with Opening Day less than two months away. But it does not include the ability for fans to stream BSN broadcasts without subscribing to a cable network or satellite carrier. The direct-to-consumer streaming option, which the twins said they were determined to create this year, is particularly off-limits in the new decade.
The deal, along with new agreements with the Guardians and Rangers, is not official until approved by federal bankruptcy judge Christopher Lopez. Lopez is scheduled to have a hearing next Friday in Houston, and the Twins said they would have no comment on their plans until then.
The contracts will give the regional Diamond Sports Networks the television rights to 12 MLB teams for the 2024 season and allow DSG to emerge from bankruptcy with plans to stay in business beyond 2024. DSG cited billions of dollars in losses due to a heavy debt load and the loss of millions of cable-cutting customers, Who declared bankruptcy a year ago this month.
The company fell behind on rights payments owed to the Twins, Guardians and Rangers last April, but a bankruptcy court in June ordered it to pay the full amount owed to those teams.
A recent report by The Athletic said the Guardian and Rangers have agreed cuts of 15% or less in their rights fees for 2024 in exchange for terminating their contracts at the end of next season. Terms with the Twins have not been announced, but a similar cut would still save the team roughly $46 million for its 2024 schedule.
Diamond’s lawyer said at a hearing last month, when the company announced a new partnership with Amazon in hopes of staying in business, that the company wanted to reach new, long-term agreements with MLB customers.
The Twins’ new deal doesn’t eliminate that possibility, but it shows that the Twins haven’t given up hope of finding a better option for the future, especially as MLB seeks to develop a league-wide broadcast strategy to replace regional networks. For example, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has said he hopes to create a “one-stop” online option in which all fans can stream games of the entire league’s games.