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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Suns, Mercury Ditch Cable for Free TV, Streaming

  • Gray Television will locally air games on its KTVK, KPHO, and KPHE stations.
  • Previous cable partner Diamond Sports says the Suns "breached our contract and violated bankruptcy law".
Devin Booker and Suns.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns and Mercury fans can still watch games for free, but there will be some changes.  

Because of a new media rights deal with Gray Television, fans in nearly 2.8 million households will now have access to games — more than tripling the reach of the team’s current cable media partner Bally Sports Arizona. Bally’s parent company, Diamond Sports, filed for bankruptcy in March. 

Diamond now claims the new deal breaches its contract: “This is an improper effort by the Suns to change their broadcasting partner without permitting Diamond to exercise our contractual rights.”

But Diamond’s position is “totally inaccurate” said Suns and Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein, and the teams are moving forward with its new media rights agreement.

The Suns reportedly received all scheduled rights payments from Bally Sports Arizona before their contract recently expired at the end of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

The new deal starts with the upcoming WNBA season. In addition to local, over-the-air broadcasts, fans can livestream games via a free direct-to-consumer service within Suns- and Mercury-branded apps built by technology partner Kiswe.  

Free broadcasts could cost the Suns tens of millions in guaranteed money per year, according to ESPN

Matt Ishbia, who bought the Suns and Mercury for around $4 billion earlier this year, told ESPN, “The media world is changing. … We’re going to be the leaders starting off with a new way of thinking about it.” MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Guardians have all claimed that Diamond Sports missed rights fee payments despite broadcasting games on their Bally Sports networks.

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