DENVER – Diamond Sports Group is accusing the Phoenix Suns of a breach of contract as the NBA team is leaving Bally Sports Arizona for Gray Television, Inc., and Kiswe.
“The Phoenix Suns breached our contract and violated bankruptcy law, and Diamond Sports Group will pursue all remedies against any parties that attempt to exercise control over our property interests while we reorganize. This is an improper effort by the Suns to change their broadcasting partner without permitting Diamond to exercise our contractual rights.”
Bally Sports Arizona is one of 19 regional sports networks owned by Diamond Sports Group, the largest owner of regional sports networks, which in March announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it missed a $140 million interest payment.
Suns and Phoenix Mercury CEO Josh Bartelstein issued a statement in response to Diamond Sports Group’s claims.
“Diamond’s position is totally inaccurate. We are moving forward with this deal and could not be more excited about what it means for our fans and our future.”
backgrounds:Suns, Mercury leaving Bally Sports Arizona for Gray Television, Inc.
The Suns announced Friday morning they will have their games televised and streamed “with or without a pay TV subscription,” by Gray Television and Kiswe next season while the Phoenix Mercury will air on them starting this season.
KTVK (Arizona’s Family 3TV), KPHO (Arizona’s Family CBS5), the statewide KPHE (AZ Family Sports Network) and Kiswe are part of the partnership with Gray Television.
KPHE serves the Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma media markets. Kiswe is an interactive video company.
“I’ve said from day one that our focus is our fans, our community, and every member of our organization and this deal checks every box,” said Suns and Mercury team owner Mat Ishbia in a news release.
“By going entirely over the air and building our own DTC product, the Suns and Mercury will now be accessible to millions more fans in Arizona and globally. Success comes from new and innovative ways to invest in our players, continue our mission to build a world class organization on and off the floor, and make our product available to as many people as possible.”
The Suns/Mercury news release stated that Gray Television and Kiswe will “deliver 100%” of the Suns and Mercury’s locally broadcast games on television and through streaming.
The Suns are on an agreement for up to five years while the Mercury has a two-year deal. Financial details weren’t disclosed on the Suns/Mercury deal with Gray Television, Inc. and Kiswe.
“We’re not focusing on money,” Ishbia said according to Real GM. “We’re focusing on winning, success and taking care of fans, taking care of the community.”
With its headquarters in Atlanta, Gray Television is the “largest owner of top-rated local television stations and digital assets in the United States,” according to its website.
The Suns and Mercury will have all non-national exclusive games broadcast between KTVK and KPHE, the news release stated. The Suns will have a minimum of 70 games broadcast, with at least 40 regular-season games on KTVK and the remaining on KPHE.
The new deal is projected to reach nearly 2.8 million households in Arizona. Kiswe gives fan access to Suns and Mercury games through a DTC streaming option alongside the over-the-air broadcast product.
more:Phoenix Suns, Mercury television deal: What you need to know
Subscribers can access the DTC streaming through a Suns or Mercury branded app on their smartphones or Smart TVs. The Mercury will have free DTC streaming this season.
“Cord cutters, cable subscribers, fans with an antenna – everyone will be able to watch Suns and Mercury games on Arizona’s Family,” Ishbia added in the news release. “Coupling that with a partnership with an industry leader like Kiswe to provide an innovative digital streaming solution allows us to transform the way fans watch our games, giving them more options and access than they’ve ever had.”
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