Earlier this year, the first major NBA team cut ties with Bally Sports and is now going to make their games free over the air thanks to a partnership with Gray Television. With this deal starting in the fall of 2023, fans of the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury will be able to watch the games for free over the air on KTVK and KPHE. With the expansion of KPHE, the Suns will now be free to watch over the air in all three of Arizona’s TV markets.
For a short time, Bally Sports objected to the deal and got a court to block it. Now Sports Business Journal has reported that Bally Sports has declined to match Gray Televisions’ offer. This means the Sun’s games will air for free on Gray Television in market.
Fans will also be able to stream the games in market through the Suns or Mercury apps on smartphones and smart TVs. Mercury games will even stream for free in market.
“Live sports can bring a community together. Combining that with the power of broadcast television and Arizona’s Family, it becomes a multiplier effect benefitting the team, the fans, and the clients,” said Debbie Bush, Vice President and General Manager, Arizona’s Family. “Our goal since day one has been creating a model that provides all fans the ability to connect with and cheer on their favorite teams via the distribution method of their choice. We are confident this model will increase fan loyalty and engagement.”
With this deal all Suns and Mercury non-national exclusive games will be broadcast between the two stations. KTVK will air a total of 13 Mercury regular season games and all available post-season games, with the remaining regular season games airing on KPHE. The Suns will have a minimum of 70 games broadcast each season, with at least 40 regular-season games on KTVK and the remaining on KPHE.
“We’re thrilled this partnership will connect our loyal family of viewers with the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” said Pat LaPlatney, President & Co-CEO of Gray Television. “In a very short window, Mat Ishbia has begun to build a world-class organization both on and off the court. And with today’s announcement, Mat has made good on his promise to focus on the community and put their fans first. We are very pleased to play a part in that effort with our stations in Phoenix, Tucson, and ultimately Yuma.”
This is the first major NBA team to cut ties with Bally Sports and its parent company Diamond Sports as they go through bankruptcy.
The question now is how many other teams will leave Bally Sports as it struggles with Bankruptcy.