Phoenix Suns and Mercury Turn to Local, Live TV: What Does That Mean for Fans?

The team announced a new media rights deal with Gray Television, Inc. on Friday, that the broadcasts of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury will change dramatically next season. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The team announced that beginning in 2023-24, the teams’ home games will be broadcast to approximately 2.8 million Arizona households for free on television and streamed online on a new service called Kisui.
  • Both teams’ contracts with Bally Sports Arizona expired this season. Bally Sports is owned by Diamond Sports Group, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.
  • In a response statement, Diamond Sports alleged, “The Suns breached our contract and violated bankruptcy law, and Diamond Sports Group will pursue all remedies against any parties attempting to exercise control over our property interests during the reorganization.”

the athleteInstant Analysis:

What does this mean for the fans?

This, in theory, should make it easier for Suns and Mercury fans to watch those teams’ games. With games on free TV available to stream, it should be a much smoother experience, without having to sign up for a cable provider or get the right package. That’s what team owner Matt Ishpia is clearly hoping for. – Vorokunov

What does this mean for the National Basketball Association?

While this news may be unexpected, it certainly isn’t surprising. This is the direction the NBA is heading with local broadcasts as regional sports networks continue to bring instability to teams and leagues. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has indicated that he expects NBA teams to return to live broadcasts in an effort to get more widely watched games in local markets, while also working to resolve existing access issues with RSN. Teams will likely pair that with some kind of direct-to-consumer connectivity option to reach younger audiences who are consuming games outside of linear TV. said a jazz executive the athlete Last month they were heading towards a hybrid model for next season as well.

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This Suns/Mercury deal will do both. The games will be shown on free TV, or what Silver called “a throwback to the way we were in the good old days,” while appearing at the SBJ World Sports Convention this month, and also made available to stream through the Suns or Mercury app, viewers can download to their phones or tablets. smart tv. The franchise has announced that Mercury games will be free to stream this season, though they will likely become a paid product in the future for both teams.

The question is how many more teams will follow suit as the RSN industry is still in turmoil. Diamond Sports Group, which owns the television rights to 16 teams, filed for bankruptcy last month. Cord cutting has made potential audiences smaller for all networks, and many NBA teams have been in protracted contractual disputes with their cable providers to prevent the RSNs that broadcast their games from getting on the air in much of the local market. – Vorokunov

What does this mean for Diamond Sports?

Diamond Sports came out swinging after the Suns announcement, which means another big battle is about to play out in RSN’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Diamond is already fighting it out with MLB on the court, and now it looks like we can add the Suns and Mercury to the mix. Presumably, the Suns wouldn’t have moved on if they didn’t think they were on a solid legal footing, but that doesn’t mean this won’t create chaos in bankruptcy court, where the presiding judge might see things differently.

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In his statement, Diamond said the Suns violated bankruptcy law, so he’s been looking for this matter for a while in a Texas court. The NBA and NHL teams have not yet been affected by the bankruptcy because their seasons were about to expire at the time of the filing, and Diamond has agreed to pay all of those teams in full for the 2022-23 season (no such commitment was made for the 2023-24 seasons). However, MLB has seen five of the 14 teams implemented Diamond RSNs, not paid. The judge recently ordered Diamond to pay half of what he owes, and it will be disposed of by both sides at a hearing expected on May 10. Now the Suns look ready to pop into his docket. – Kaplan

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(Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)

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