The Unthinkable Has Happened: Braves Canceled From Bally Sports

braves can't be viewed
On May 1st, 2024, a day that will live in infamy, the Braves announced on twitter that due to a contract dispute fans would no longer be able to be viewed on comcast. What happened and where can you watch the Braves going forward?

The saga between Bally Sports and cable providers took a nasty turn on Wednesday, May 1st, as Atlanta Braves fans awoke to a shocking reality: they could no longer watch their favorite team on Comcast/Xfinity. This comes after a contract dispute between the two companies resulted in Comcast dropping Bally Sports networks entirely.

The message they displayed reeked of a contract gone bad:

The owner of Bally Sports is in bankruptcy proceedings, and we have offered them multiple options to continue carrying their networks. They have declined each one, and we no longer have the rights to continue carrying their content.

As a result, we’ll be issuing proactive monthly credits to customers for the loss of this network.

Xfinity Message to viewers

They offered a link xfinity.com/facts to get more (particularly their side) of the argument. However when going to the site, they offer only sparse details.

Comcast/Xfinity has released a statement regarding the sudden blackout of Braves games and other Bally Sports content. The provider emphasizes that Diamond Sports Group, owner of Bally Sports, is currently in bankruptcy proceedings. Comcast claims to have offered “multiple options” to continue carrying the networks, but all proposals were declined by Diamond. As a result, Comcast states it “no longer has the rights” to broadcast Bally Sports channels. They promise customers will see a credit on their bills in the coming weeks, reflecting savings due to the dropped channels.

Comcast’s statement places the blame squarely on Diamond Sports Group, suggesting their refusal to compromise led to the blackout that is now impacting Braves fans and other Bally Sports viewers.

Daniel Frankel’s report on Yahoo Finance paints a more complex picture of the situation. It seems Diamond Sports Group, while still locked in a dispute with Comcast, is actively pushing to regain its footing. Just a day after securing a deal with DirecTV, they’ve announced a multi-year agreement with Cox Communications as well.

This move, according to Diamond CEO David Preschlack, marks a “significant milestone” as the company attempts to complete its restructuring amidst challenging bankruptcy proceedings. Suzanne Fenwick of Cox Communications echoes a desire to keep delivering sports content to fans.

Frankel’s insights suggest that Diamond’s success in these negotiations is crucial. A hearing scheduled for June 18th will determine the company’s emergence from bankruptcy. To convince creditors and league partners, they need to demonstrate their ability to renew pay TV contracts. While agreements with DirecTV and Charter are positive steps, the strained relationship with Comcast remains a major hurdle. However, Cox’s move to renew Bally Sports channels could offer a glimmer of hope for Diamond in their ongoing negotiations with Comcast.

Key Takeaways:

This unfortunate situation highlights the ongoing problems with the Regional Sports Network (RSN) model and its impact on fans. Here’s a breakdown of what happened and why it matters:

  • The Bally Sports Blackout: Due to a failed negotiation between Comcast and Diamond Sports Group, the owner of Bally Sports, Braves games are currently unavailable for Xfinity subscribers. This effectively blackouts a large portion of the Atlanta fan base.
  • Alternative Solutions (But Not for Everyone): While other cable providers and streaming services (MLB.tv) still offer Bally Sports, this doesn’t solve the problem for all fans. Comcast is a major provider, and the additional cost or inconvenience of switching services creates a barrier for many. Mlb.tv, for example, can only be seen by people out of the market where their team is playing.
  • Who Loses? The Fans (and Maybe Everyone): Ultimately, the biggest losers in this situation are the fans. Blackouts prevent them from watching their hometown team, creating a frustrating and unfair situation. The financial impact can also be significant for Diamond Sports Group, and potentially for MLB as a whole, if such disputes become commonplace.
  • A Broken Model? This incident throws a spotlight on the potential flaws of the RSN model. Blackout restrictions and limited accessibility raise questions about the long-term viability of this system in an era of streaming services and broader content consumption options.

Whose side are you on?
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