D-backs will end broadcasts on Bally Sports Arizona immediately
Jul 18, 2023, 9:57 AM | Updated: 12:53 pm
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
Bally Sports Arizona will cease to carry Arizona Diamondbacks games on television after its owner, Diamond Sports, could not agree with the team on favorable terms of a new deal.
A judge ruled Tuesday in favor of Diamond Sports’ request to cease operations as the D-backs’ TV partner, moving the team’s broadcasts to MLB control immediately, reports Front Office Sports’ Eric Fischer.
The Diamondbacks announced games will air locally for Phoenix-area COX cable subscribers on Yurview channel 4 and channel 7 in Tucson. DirecTV will carry games on channel 686-3, Spectrum will carry them on channel 304, and Comcast xfinity will show D-backs games on channel 1261.
Games will also be available on Fubo and DirecTV Stream, while there is an additional streaming option for the team’s game for $19.99 per month on MLB.TV.
Fans will be able to view streams for free on MLB.com and Dbacks.com through Sunday.
🚨 Starting today, you can watch your #Dbacks in some new locations! And for the first time, you can stream games in-market via https://t.co/0iFv0TuhNf with a new Single Team D-backs subscription. Learn more at https://t.co/k9Xjx1tKgF. pic.twitter.com/hi49pChOyO
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 18, 2023
The MLB team said the move will expand the D-backs’ reach from 930,000 homes to approximately 5.6 million in the broadcast footprint. The increase of 4.7 million homes marks a +506% jump in reach.
“This decision provides us with an opportunity to partner with Major League Baseball to produce high-quality broadcasts of D-backs games on current platforms, expand access to include streaming options, and remove local blackouts that have been a fan frustration point for years,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall said in a release. “We have enjoyed our partnership with Bally Sports Arizona and thank them for the longtime partnership. But we look forward to providing unprecedented access to our exciting team moving forward, including a greatly expanded reach of new households.”
The D-backs are the second team, following the San Diego Padres, to leave Bally’s regional sports networks (RSN) for MLB’s own production.
Diamond Sports filed a request in court Monday with plans to separate from the D-backs by vacating Chase Field by the end of July. The language in the request indicated the company would end its coverage of Arizona games on Bally Sports Arizona.
The hearing on Tuesday did not clarify how TV providers, such as DirecTV, would be able to continue carrying games under the new broadcast format without paying a new rights fee.
A motion filed a week before the turn of the calendar to July set forward new negotiations between Diamond Sports, the MLB club and other suitors interested in broadcasting Diamondbacks games.
Diamond Sports, which is in bankruptcy, requested in the Southern Texas Bankruptcy Court on June 22 that its current television contract with the D-backs be rejected, and a judge ruled in favor of that. A hearing scheduled for the end of June that could have ended the current Diamondbacks-Bally deal was pushed back to Monday, then again to Tuesday.
“We have to have enough time to let fans know where to go … we’re working closely with MLB and other suitors that wanted us,” Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on July 6. “We’re talking with (Bally) because we had so many good negotiations and so many good conversations.”
The New York Post’s Josh Kosman reported on July 10 that the D-backs even were negotiating a 20% discount and a new deal with Bally to include streaming that wasn’t available. That would put the team on the Bally Sports+ platform, something that Bally had for the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes last season but not for the MLB team. It would help distribute games to fans who do not have Bally as part of a cable package.
Kosman added that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was threatening to block a revised Bally deal involving the Diamondbacks.
In February, Manfred said the league was ready to take on game broadcasts in the event Diamond Sports could no longer function as the rights holder.
“We are prepared no matter what happens with respect to Diamond to make sure the games are available to fans in their local markets,” Manfred said at Cactus League Media Day. “We think it will be both linear in the traditional cable bundle and digitally on our own platforms, but that remains to be seen.”
A bankruptcy judge on June 1 ruled in favor of Major League Baseball against Diamond Sports, forcing the company to fulfill its end on contracts for the rights to broadcast MLB games. The Diamondbacks were ordered to receive the full payment of $18 million, according to Arizona’s Law.
After missing a $140 million interest payment, Diamond Sports Group, the company that operates Bally Sports regional networks, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.
Under Chapter 11, the company has frozen assets, allowing it to refinance and reorganize.
Bally Sports Arizona also holds the rights to the Arizona Coyotes.
It is also in a legal battle to retain the rights of the Phoenix Suns, who announced a new agreement before the end of their prior contract.
A judge ruled with Diamond Sports and said in May that the new media deal announced by the Suns with Gray Television and Kiswe was void, but the television deal away from the regional sports network became official last week after Bally’s operator opted not to match the contract terms, as was their right under their contract with the NBA club.