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As I Lay Diamond

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The NBA is naturally concerned about timing: If Diamond is unable to emerge from bankruptcy, the league needs to have enough time to make a new plan for the following seasons. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
John Ourand
April 11, 2024

The Diamond post-bankruptcy saga continues, with all the landmines that we’ve been predicting and some that we have not. To wit: The business plan that company executives will present to a bankruptcy court judge in just six days, on April 17, includes only one long-term contract in hand—a deal with Charter Communications. (I’m told that talks with Comcast and DirecTV are progressing, that ubiquitous deal term of art.) None of this uncertainty is surprising. Distributors have well-earned reputations as brutal negotiators, and wouldn’t neglect the opportunity to steal a cane from an old man—or fleece a regional sports network emerging from bankruptcy. 

That’s all well and good, but industry executives have been caught off-guard by Diamond’s inability to cut deals with the NBA. After all, the league has a vested interest in keeping the lucrative local rights fees flowing from the R.S.N. business. But the NBA is taking a tougher stance: League executives have been clear with Diamond that they won’t consider any long-term deal for their teams’ digital rights until the NBA’s national and global media rights negotiations wrap up—something that’s not expected to happen until later this spring or early summer, a lifetime away for Diamond, which needs to show the revenue. There is even the possibility that talks could stretch into the fall.