MLB Grows 'Local Media' Operations As RSN Financial Issues Loom

In response to growing regional sports networks' financial issues, Major League Baseball has hired new staff members to a newly created “local media” group.

“These new hires are an important step in our preparation to address the changing landscape of MLB game distribution in light of the increasing challenges and pressure facing regional sports networks,” said Noah Garden, chief revenue officer of MLB, in a release.

-- Doug Johnson has been hired as senior vice president and executive producer of local media, responsible for overseeing all games produced locally by MLB. He formerly had been a AT&T SportsNet, a regional sports network (RSN) group.

-- Greg Pennell will be senior vice president/local media, heading up production operations of all local MLB telecasts. Pennell has been with Fox Sports Networks and Bally Sports Regional Networks.



-- Kendall Burgess will be vice president/local media technical operations, overseeing technical operations of the local MLB telecasts. She had been vice president of technical operations for Bally Sports.

Diamond Sports Group -- the biggest RSN group -- missed a $140 million interest-only payment on its $8 billion debt, according to reports.

Analysts project that this action indicates that Diamond Sports will soon file for bankruptcy.

Major League Baseball -- which has 14 teams on those RSNs, the Bally Sports-branded operations -- says it will be prepared if Diamond cannot pay the teams. That means over TV-video airings of the games.

"We think it will be both linear in the traditional cable bundle and digitally on our own platforms, but that remains to be seen,” said Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball commissioner, last month.

More recently, a smaller RSN group -- AT&T SportsNet, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery -- issued a warning over its financial difficulties, signaling that it could soon depart from the business.

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