With regional sports networks like Bally’s Sports and AT&T SportsNet flailing, it’s becoming harder to figure out where your favorite professional sports teams will be on air.
Gray Television, a broadcast company that owns nearly 200 stations in 113 markets, is working to offer some of these games for free through an over-the-air antenna.
The company already struck an agreement with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury to air their games when an existing deal with Diamond Sports Group’s Bally’s Sports expires. But that might just be the beginning.
Gray is talking to other teams and leagues about striking similar deals, Gray President and Co-CEO Pat LaPlatney said on the company’s second-quarter earnings conference call on Friday (first reported by Next TV). LaPlatney added that returning pro sports to local channels offers more value to the team and to the fans.
More of these deals would give local fans a simple and free method of watching their professional teams, something that had been increasingly gated by cable or regional sports networks. But those networks are struggling due to the rise of cord cutting.
Diamond Sports Group has filed for bankruptcy and is expected to lose a number of broadcasting deals. Warner Bros. Discovery, meanwhile, said it was looking to shut down or divest its SportsNet regional sports networks by the end of the year.
LaPlatney, meanwhile, teased more deals down the line.
The company wasn’t available to provide additional comment or details on the proposed deals.