Hall: Opportunity awaits for D-backs after Bally Sports Arizona ruling

Jul 18, 2023, 12:05 PM | Updated: 1:40 pm

New channels aren’t the only changes afoot for the Arizona Diamondbacks following a Tuesday ruling in the Texas Southern Bankruptcy Court to terminate the contract agreement between Diamond Sports Group, operator of Bally Sports Arizona, and the team.

The ruling could have come at a better time — with the change in broadcasting taking hold immediately and Arizona set to open a series against the Atlanta Braves this afternoon — but getting out from under the umbrella of Bally Sports certainly has its advantages.

For starters, with MLB media taking over broadcasting, the audience is going to grow exponentially.

“I look at it as opportunity. … We’re going to go from 930,000 that were subscribers to the ability to have nearly 5 million now with the increase in households and outside of our state market,” president and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke soon after the ruling came down. “In addition to that, you lift a blackout that fans always had when it comes to streaming. They now have the ability to stream our games.

“I really thank both of (Fox Sports Arizona and Bally Sports Arizona) for being great partners and I can’t fault any of the folks from Bally. They’ve been really good. They’ve got jobs, they have families and it has an impact on them. That’s what hurts the most.”

While the reach, production and channels are heading for a change, Hall adds the broadcasters and announcers fans have come to know and love on a given night will remain the same.

And from what Hall has seen firsthand from the San Diego Padres, the first team to move to MLB following a Bally Sports split, the product is only going to improve.

“MLB production and MLB media has committed to making it even better,” Hall said. “They’re bringing in new cameras, a new look. … I’ve been really impressed with the angles, the looks, the cleanliness, the freshness. We’re going to see a lot of that as well.”

It’s a proper trial run for the D-backs, who will set course for a new TV deal for 2024 and beyond.

And from the sounds of it, there are already interested parties in forming a partnership.

“Do we do a similar setup where it’s going to be cable or satellite? Or is it more over the air like we used to have in the past?” Hall said of future TV and streaming options. “Will it be a hybrid of sorts? I think now we can look at all the options, which provides more opportunity than being stuck in a long-term agreement with Fox Sports Arizona and then as it became Bally Sports Arizona.”

“I think it’s a clean slate. We’ll talk to MLB, we’ll talk to other possible partners, we’ll talk to over-the-air partners. We’ve had a lot of interest going through this from outsiders asking if we’d be willing to engage. … We’re talking with MLB about what it looks like next year as a specific partner of theirs only exclusively or if we can bring in other partners to help distribution but what’s important to me is to make sure we can have more viewership than ever before, cover more territory than ever before. Not only statewide but outside, because we have so many fans when you look at New Mexico and Utah and Nevada.”

Judge a D-backs’ fan?

– Hall on what the judge on the Bally Sports Arizona ruling had to say on the D-backs:

“The judge, watching the ruling this morning and the hearing, was great. He even said this has been a fun team, it’s been a fun season, they have a Rookie of the Year candidate and their fans deserve to watch these games. It was really cool to hear him say that.”

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