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D-Backs To Follow Suns, Mercury in Massive TV Transition

  • Ishbia-led basketball teams complete Gray Television deal
  • MLB team warns on-air that local broadcast changes could soon be forthcoming
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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September 21, 2023 | Podcast
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Sports television in a key Southwest U.S. market will look quite different very soon. 

The NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Mercury are currently forging their own path separate from Bally Sports and bankrupt parent Diamond Sports Group, and MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks are poised to follow them.

The Suns and Mercury, owned by Mat Ishbia, completed negotiations with local broadcaster Gray Television to show non-national games over the air on the KTVK, KPHO, and KPHE TV stations. The OTA broadcasts will be supplemented by Kiswe-supported free streaming.

The deal, first announced in April, was finalized after DSG failed to match Gray Television’s bid.

The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, warned viewers on Bally Sports air Sunday that legal developments “may result in new channels for the [team’s] games to be seen.” 

DSG and the team have a twice-postponed bankruptcy court hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Last month, the Diamondbacks and DSG said there were “ongoing and positive discussions toward finding a solution,” suggesting a reworked rights deal was developing. Nearly three weeks later, no such agreement has surfaced, and the on-air comments increasingly point to MLB taking over the team’s local rights, similar to what it’s doing in San Diego.

In recent weeks, DSG made MLB rights payments to Texas, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Cincinnati as part of the league’s collection of 94% of 2023 money due from the company. But the Phoenix developments further signal the rapidly transforming TV landscape as cord-cutting accelerates and regional sports network fortunes decline.

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