Late yesterday, Bally Sports Parent Company asked the judge overseeing its bankruptcy for permission not to pay the Arizona Coyotes contract. This will allow Bally Sports to end its TV contract with the company and could possibly allow it to shut down Bally Sports Arizona.
This comes as Bally Sports has already lost TV rights to the first major NBA team, the Suns, cut ties with Bally Sports and is now going to make their games free over the air thanks to a partnership with Gray Television. Not only will the games be free over the air, but they will also be streamed to viewers in market on the new Suns Live streaming service. With this deal starting this month, 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.
Bally Sports also dropped the Arizona Diamondback TV contract over the summer. This leaves Bally Sports Arizona with just the Coyotes as the only professional sports TV it has TV rights for at this time. Without the Suns, Mercury, and Diamondbacks, Bally Sports may see its Bally Sports Arizona channel as an unprofitable TV stations. Dropping the Coyotes TV contract may be more profitable than trying to keep the channel running.
This comes as Bally Sports has a lot of NBA and NHL teams it must start to make payments to this month. Much like the MLB its has been speculated that some teams will not be paid.
Bally Sports must pay 14 NBA teams to keep their TV rights. These payments are expected to happen on October 1 or November 1, 2023. According to the report, the average fee owed to each team is about $40 million. If Bally Sports wants to keep all of the teams, it will have to pay about $560 million, though that is reportedly to be paid in installments over the season. (It is being reported that the Pelicans have already been paid, leaving 14 teams left.)
The NBA teams Bally Sports currently has contracts with are the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs. Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. (The Pelicans have reportedly already been paid.)
The NHL teams that Bally Sports currently has contacts with are the Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Los Angeles Kings.
The sports channel might drop some of the more unprofitable teams if a deal isn’t reached. Time is running our for Bally Sports to decide who it will pay and who it may want to cancel its contracts with.