In Pre-Emptive Move, MLB Creates Local Media Group


Major League Baseball has added three executives to its new local media department as it prepares for a possible takeover of local broadcasts for 17 teams amid the financial deterioration of the Bally and AT&T SportsNet regional sports networks.

Doug Johnson was hired as SVP/Executive Producer of Local Media, while Greg Pennell is now the SVP of Local Media and Kendall Burgess is in the role of VP/Local Media Technical Operations.

It is believed the league could take over broadcasts for the Diamondbacks, Braves, Reds, Guardians, Tigers, Royals, Angels, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals, Padres, Rays, Rangers, Rockies, Astros and Pirates.

“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,” MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement.

Johnson joins MLB from AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh where he was responsible for the day-to-day management and long-term planning for more than 250 live events each year.

Most recently, Pennell oversaw the Bally Sports Regional Networks day-to-day financial operations including the production of over 4,500 professional sporting events per year.

Burgess was Vice President of Technical Operations for Bally Sports, working with Production and Engineering to provide direction for the 19 Bally Sports regional networks across the country which produce over 4,500 live sporting events annually.

As previously reported, Diamond Sports Group, the subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group that operates as Bally Sports, skipped roughly $140 million in interest payments due February 15.

Bally Sports holds the rights to 14 Major League Baseball teams. With debt as of the end of Q3 2022 of $8.674 billion and close to $1 billion in rights payments, mostly to baseball teams, due by the end of March, a bankruptcy filing for DSG is being discussed by Wall Street observers.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Discovery’s AT&T SportsNet networks told the Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates last week that the companies lack the funds necessary to complete scheduled rights fee payments. As such, the teams have until March 31 to reclaim their broadcast rights. If there are no deals in place, the networks would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The latest round of appointments follow a January announcement from MLB that Billy Chambers has been appointed to the newly created post of EVP/Local Media.