KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Royals owner John Sherman spoke with reporters ahead of Opening Day, and while most of the discussion focused on the future of the Royals ballpark, Sherman also spoke about how the RSN (regional sports network) crisis is currently affecting the MLB, NHL and NBA.
Sherman said while the ongoing issue is something to keep an eye on, the team is prepared to handle the issue financially and fans will still be able to watch the Royals games.
Sherman says he still expects Diamond Sports Group, who owns the Bally Sports Network, which broadcasts 47 teams, to pay the team for their rights fees despite the group filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 14.
“It is interesting,” Sherman said. “While the parent company was declared bankrupt, not all the networks were declared bankrupt and (Bally Sports Midwest/Kansas City) was one of the ones that was not.”
According to the New York Post, Diamond Sports Group has already planned to reject the contracts of four teams: San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds.
The Texas Rangers plan to cut ties with Bally Sports "in the event of insolvency," according to The Athletic.
Sherman reiterated the same points MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made in a conference call back in February. Both said the league has been prepared for the RSN issue for a long time, and they anticipate the issue can be handled.
“We are prepared financially if we were not to be paid,” Sherman said.
Sherman said he expects the future of MLB viewership to change, and that eventually all games will be under a centralized global MLB media company. Such a company would mean no blackout restrictions, something the league has been trying to fix.
“Long term, (the league) would like to have the rights back and be in control of the distribution of the content long term,” Sherman said. “When I think about access long term, I think they’ll be some real upside.”
“The blackouts have to go away," Sherman said. "I think that’s the first order of business when and if this becomes (centralized under MLB).”