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The Diamond-Comcast Collision, Part 1,000

Giannis Antetokounmpo nba
Everyone would prefer the status quo of the R.S.N. system and punt the hard decisions about streaming to a later date when the future is clearer. Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Image
John Ourand
April 25, 2024

The higher calling of journalism isn’t necessarily something that you choose so much as the profession chooses you. And yet, in the decades I’ve spent scrawling in notebooks, I never quite thought I would be covering the saga of the late-stage regional sports network business as if it contained the drama and intrigue of the final months of the Hundred Years’ War. And yet, here we are, dear reader, as the April 30 deadline looms for Diamond Sports to cut a deal with Comcast.

Loyal Varsity observers know full well the stakes of all this. Amid its attempt to emerge from bankruptcy, Diamond C.E.O. David Preschlack needs to make a series of deals with leagues and distributors in order to save his bacon. And while Preschlack would love to convince partners to adopt a glide path for moving Diamond’s sports networks to a higher-priced digital tier, Comcast and DirecTV appear more inclined to pursue the cliff path, a grinfucking post-prime-cable maneuver that would cut a significant portion of their revenue overnight. In many ways, hyperbole aside, this really is the story of our time in this industry, no matter how unpleasant or seemingly mundane.