We might have moved one giant step closer to Minnesota Twins fans finally being able to watch games next season.
Bally Sports North, which is both a horrible service for fans and also bankrupt, is going the way of the Dodo. Diamond Sports Group, which owns BSN and other regional sports networks as well as the rights to broadcast games in those markets, went belly up last year and has presented potential opportunity for teams to find better ways to allow fans to watch games.
It also caused some revenue problems that resulted in the Twins slashing payroll this offseason.
There are a lot of big picture solutions, like the Twins potentially creating their own version of Marquee or YES Network, but that's a long-term plan. More immedietly, the season starts in just over three months and right now fans have no way of watching games.
That's something that could be changing soon with news that Amazon is acquiring a minority stake in Diamond Sports Group with the intention of providing a way for MLB to air games.
Evan Drellich and Mike Vorkunov broke things down over at The Athletic and while it's an exciting development it's still unclear how the Twins and television broadcasts will be impacted next season.
"But with Diamond now poised to carry forward beyond 2024, the tenor of any negotiations with MLB might now change. An MLB team executive who spoke to The Athletic on Wednesday morning said his team was still trying to figure out what the Diamond-Amazon partnership would mean for his team’s TV rights," The Athletic wrote.
Will Twins fans be able to watch games on Amazon Prime next season?
Through all the muckity-muck of corporate speak about this deal, the only thing fans want to know if whether or not they can watch games on Amazon Prime next season instead of Bally Sports North.
Of course, there's some sort of Dad Joke rooted in reality to be made about how this would mean Twins fans could actually watch games, since Bally Sports North has one of the worst user experiences out there.
Right now the answer is, no -- for now.
Those five teams are one that Diamond/Bally hold streaming and linear cable rights. For the other teams tied to Bally, like the Twins, the clubs own their streaming rights. The Twins are among the group of teams expecting to hear something by Feburary 1st, which means we all have to wait just a little bit longer for a true answer.
There isn't a deal in place that would allow for games to be watched on Amazon Prime the same way that Thursday Night Football is broadcast. MLB and Diamond Sports Group haven't publicly commented on what the deal means, with The Athletic reporting that not even MLB knows what the deal means -- figuratively or literally.
We do have a rough sketch of how things might work further down the road, though.
The most realistic way this plays out is that Amazon Prime makes games avaliable regionally. So anyone in the Minnesota market would be able to watch the Twins, but anyone outside of it would need to subscribe to something like MLB.tv to watch games.
MLB wants to find a third-party to stream in-market games, though, so this could be the start of that ball rolling downhill toward Twins fans.
As far as price, that's not yet known. It's worth noting that Amazon puchased a minority stake in Diamond Sports Group, but the idea here is that the digital platform Prime provides is why the deal is being made. Direct-to-Consumer is a term that is being thrown around, which basically means being able to watch on a streaming service.
It sound like there's still some distance left to run before we get a concrete answer on how Twins fans will be able to watch games in 2024, but it's looking like Amazon Prime will be the way it happens.