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Diamond Sports Group Files Motion for 120-Day Extension in Ch. 11 Bankruptcy

“The Debtors believe they have more than earned this extension through their hard work, diligence, and accomplishments to date.”

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Bally Sports
Courtesy: Diamond Sports Group

Diamond Sports Group recently participated in a hearing regarding the status of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier in November upon reaching a cooperation agreement with its stakeholders. A term of this agreement, however, is that it does not become effective unless a management services agreement between Diamond and its parent company, Sinclair, Inc., is assumed or rejected by Nov. 30, 2023.

In late July, Diamond filed a lawsuit against Sinclair and alleged it received around $1.5 billion because of misconduct related to the “fraudulent transfer of assets, unlawful distributions and payments, breaches of contracts, unjust enrichment and breaches of fiduciary duties.” This remains a pending lawsuit and is resulting in an in-person mediation session that is currently slated to occur on Dec. 7, 2023. Should these issues be unable to reach a resolution, Diamond Sports Group debtors say they are prepared to continue litigating these proceedings to a conclusion. Sinclair counsel prognosticated that Diamond’s business will “go away” during the hearing with the bankruptcy court.

Debtors from Diamond Sports Group have requested a 120-day extension to file a Ch. 11 bankruptcy plan, the third such motion to grant an extension during the bankruptcy case. If approved, it would move the filing deadline through and including March 28, 2024, and solicit acceptances up to and including May 28, 2024. Within its rationale, the regional sports network operator claimed that more than 81% of first lien claim holders are in support of the cooperation agreement, along with “certain large holders of second lien claims.” The current filing exclusivity period runs through and includes Nov. 29, 2023, while the solicitation exclusivity period runs through and includes Jan. 29, 2023.

“It has taken months of painstaking negotiations to break the logjam in these cases and reach the settlements and resolutions embodied in the Cooperation Agreement and the NBA agreement,” Diamond Sports Group said in a court filing. “This is primarily because of headwinds that the Debtors’ linear television business has faced leading up to and during these chapter 11 cases. Moreover, the Debtors’ wide array of active stakeholders have held differing views regarding the Debtors’ go-forward business and resolution of these chapter 11 cases in the context of these systemic industry changes.”

The NBA approves this cooperation agreement as well, which was approved by the court on Nov. 15 and allowed Diamond to enter into agreements with the NBA and NHL to modify their media rights contracts. As it pertains to MLB, the debtors conveyed that they have communicated with the league about which teams Diamond intends to keep broadcasting. MLB previously declared that “time is up” for Diamond to determine its plan, leading it to file a motion to compel that is set for a hearing on Dec. 15, 2023.

Last season, Diamond Sports Group selectively rejected broadcast contracts of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, resulting in the league stepping in to broadcast and disseminate the games independently. Prior to the season’s start, the league created a local media department, headed by former regional sports network executive Billy Chambers, and also provided at least 80% of remuneration that teams would have received under their previous deals with Diamond. The league also recently hired Josh Clark in a newly-created role of senior vice president of content distribution, serving a pivotal role in distribution agreements for local media live game rights and other media interests.

The filing refers to the cooperation agreement as a “significant breakthrough,” but it does acknowledge that there are two key tasks within the case as a whole. Depending on the outcome of the Dec. 15 hearing on the motion to compel filed by MLB and another motion to compel filed by Sinclair, the effectiveness of the cooperation agreement is said to potentially be impacted.

This agreement was reached on condition of a beneficial resolution therein, along with reaching a deal with the NHL, which it is in the midst of finalizing the terms of with the league. Diamond Sports Group debtors are also continuing to work with multichannel virtual programming distributors (MVPD) to ensure games will continue to be accessible with the fans.

If the motions to compel from both entities are denied, along with the NHL agreement being approved and an amendment to a cash collateral order to include certain terms in the cooperation agreement, Diamond Sports Group debtors intend to file a Ch. 11 plan within 10 business days or within another timeframe to be agreed on. These obligations are imposed on the Debtors under the cooperation agreement, which entails that it must implement the intercreditor settlement within the Ch. 11 plan.

“Once that plan is filed, the Debtors expect to prosecute it on a reasonable timeline,” the motion reads, “with confirmation likely to be scheduled for early spring following approval of a disclosure statement and completion of plan solicitation.”

At the moment, the Debtors continue to work with a judicial mediator to attain concordance among creditor groups, the UCC and commercial counterparties on the best path forward. The intent to operate the Diamond Sports Group business through the 2024 MLB season is a path that it believes will maximize distributable value for creditors. Utilizing the cooperation agreement as a baseline, the parties within reached settlement on intercreditor issues that will diminish and/or eliminate costs associated with additional litigation.

“The Debtors’ entry into the Cooperation Agreement was a critical step in these chapter 11 cases that provides the Debtors, their creditors, and team, league, and distributor partners with clarity and visibility over the course of the 2023-24 Seasons,” Diamond Sports Group said, “and a pathway to confirming a chapter 11 plan while minimizing further administrative costs.”

Diamond Sports Group debtors have currently been granted a cumulative 140 days worth of extensions to file a Ch. 11 plan. Within its motion, the debtors express that they are not seeking an extension to pressure stakeholders, but rather to safeguard and build upon the progress made under exclusivity and protect optionality.

“The Debtors believe they have more than earned this extension through their hard work, diligence, and accomplishments to date,” Diamond Sports Group said in the filing. “Moreover, it is difficult even to conceive of any other party competently filing a plan of its own. But the mere possibility of other parties filing competing over the next few months would, at minimum, be a needless and costly distraction.”

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Jac Collinsworth Out as NBC Voice of Notre Dame Football

NBC will alternate between their new top team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge or Dan Hicks and Jason Garrett, depending on the game.

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Jac Collinsworth, Jason Garrett
Courtesy: NBC

According to Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, Jac Collinsworth will no longer serve as the play-by-play voice of Notre Dame football games for NBC. The younger Collinsworth, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2017, served as the lead voice for Fighting Irish football games on NBC for two years.

Marchand says that starting next season, NBC’s team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge will assume number one college football commentator duties. Internally, NBC execs enjoyed the duo’s calls of NFL and Big Ten football games and wanted to “reward” them with a larger stage. However, Marchand confirms that the pair will still call primetime Big Ten games but will be moved to the Notre Dame call if the network feels the Fighting Irish game of the week is a bigger draw.

Fans of Jason Garrett will be happy to know the former Cowboys coach will still be on the call for other Notre Dame games, now alongside longtime NBC voice Dan Hicks.

All is not lost for Collinsworth, though. Jac will still be part of the Football Night in America team and call college football games on Peacock. Collinsworth was also a voice for the network’s USFL coverage but that will no longer be an option following the league’s merger with the XFL.

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Craig Carton Doubles Down On Philadelphia Eagles Report After Adam Schefter Denial

“I texted someone in the organization yesterday, and the text I got back was, ‘None of that ‘S’ happened.’”

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Craig Carton and Adam Schefter
Caraig Carton Courtesy of FS1, Adam Schefter courtesy of ESPN

Craig Carton put out a mysterious report surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles that was shot down by prominent ESPN reporter Adam Schefter. Now, Carton, the current FS1 and former WFAN voice has doubled down on his story.

During the Feb. 20 episode of The Carton Show, Carton said that the Eagles’ collapse was due to, “a problem that would splinter any group of men. It is a real significant problem, and it can not be fixed,” but did not go into any sort of detail.

Schefter, ever the journalist, reached out to a source within the Eagles organization, who immediately denounced the story. During an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic’s The John Kinkaid Show, Schefter said, “I texted someone in the organization yesterday, and the text I got back was, ‘None of that ‘S’ happened.’” Carton immediately started backpedaling via his X account.

Carton also spoke to The New York Post, telling the news outlet, “Considering I never said what the situation was, what exactly are the Eagles denying? I don’t know what the Eagles are denying. Just because the team is denying something and saying it didn’t happen, we should believe them?” The former WFAN host then accuses Schefter of contacting Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and again asks what was being denied because of Carton’s vague original report.

He then retweeted a post from JAKIB Sports reporter Derrick Gunn, saying that there was some internal strife within the Eagles last season. However, nothing Gunn reported seemingly matched the level of dysfunction that Carton speculated.

Today’s episode of The Carton Show also featured Eagles talk, echoing the same sentiments that Carton mentioned to The Post without offering much in the way of news.

Until Carton or another sports media member reveals exactly what went on behind the scenes, Eagles fans will just have to hope for a more positive season in 2024.

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ESPN Broadcast of Rangers-Islanders Stadium Series Game Is Its Most-Viewed NHL Regular Season Game Since 2021

The Stadium Series game between the Rangers and Islanders averaged 1.6 million viewers, the most for a regular season game since the league returned in 2021.

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The NHL on ESPN got a major win under its belt with news that the Sunday, Feb. 18 Stadium Series matchup between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders amassed about 1.6 million viewers, the most for a regular season game since the league returned to the Worldwide Leader in 2021. It was also the most-watched Stadium Series game overall since 2019. The Sunday night broadcast peaked at 2.38 million viewers, an increase of 31 percent vs. last year’s Stadium Series game.

Combined with the Saturday night tilt between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, both games averaged 1.37 million total viewers and 448,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic – both figures up 21 percent from last year’s Stadium Series game. Flyers/Devils averaged 1.13 million total viewers and 401,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, which was flat and up 8 percent versus last year’s Stadium Series. The game’s audience peaked at 1.38 million viewers.

The NHL announced that 9.4 million people across the North American continent tuned into the 16 NHL games that took place across Saturday and Sunday.

Like most sports, NHL viewership has gone up this year — both locally and nationally. Local channel viewership figures are up three percent across the board, while NHL viewership on ESPN is up 40 percent compared to last year.

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