By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
The NBA’s Phoenix Suns can now go forward with its new broadcasting deal with Gray Television after Diamond Sports opted to drop its objection, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
The Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury announced in April that they signed a deal with local broadcaster Gray to air their entire regular seasons on local Arizona TV channels starting with the 2023-23 season. Team officials suggested the games would be available for free. See this article for more details.
However, Diamond Sports, the owner of 18 Bally Sports regional sports channels, including Bally Sports Arizona, objected to the Suns portion of the deal, saying it had the right to match the Gray offer under a provision in its expired agreement with the basketball team. The Suns and the RSN company, which declared bankruptcy in March, and is trying to reorganize as a profitable unit, was ordered by bankruptcy court Judge Chris Lopez to negotiate a settlement.
Ourand reports that Diamond Sports has now dropped its opposition, paving the way for the Suns and Gray to begin implementing their plan.
The local Arizona stations that will air the Suns games are KTVK, KPHO, and KPHE and their broadcasts will be a throwback to an era decades ago when local stations were the primary carrier of local pro sports teams. The Suns say 2.8 million Arizona households will have access to the games via the local channels which can be seen for free with an antenna.
The Suns and Mercury also announced a direct-to-consumer streaming deal with Kiswe that will allow fans to subscribe directly to an app that offers the games.
It’s unclear how Diamond Sports’ opting out of the Suns agreement will affect the company’s negotiations with the Arizona Diamondbacks to continue broadcasting their games on the Bally Sports Arizona channel.
Diamond Sports says it’s in “constructive discussions” with the Diamondbacks to continue its broadcasting agreement with the MLB team. The company last month filed a motion to drop its contract with the Diamondbacks. But a week later, it filed a new motion to postpone a June 30 hearing on that request until July 17.
“(Diamond Sports) and the Diamondbacks have been engaged in constructive discussions on potential consensual paths forward to resolve the motion. Accordingly, the parties agreed to adjourn the hearing on the
motion to allow these positive discussions to continue. If the parties are unable to reach a consensual solution, the Debtors (Diamond Sports) are prepared to proceed with the rejection motion, which remains pending as of the date of this motion,” yesterday’s motion states.
The New York Post reported this week that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, a frequent critic of Diamond Sports, is threatening to veto a new deal with the Diamondbacks because it would be more favorable to the RSN (regional sports networks) company.
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— Phillip Swann