It’s been an offseason filled with excitement for the Phoenix Suns. Bradley Beal. A young, athletic, hungry bench. No more Landry Shamet. And now Mat Ishbia is fulfilling his promise to make Suns’ basketball accessible to the fan base.
The Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury have been broadcast on Bally Sports AZ (formerly FOX Sports Arizona) since the 2003-04 season. Bally Sports, owned by Diamond Sports Group, has been experiencing financial challenges and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.
Prior to that you could see the Suns on local UPN45, with an introduction that was the soundtrack of the sunburst years:
Ah, good times.
After taking ownership of the team, Mat Ishbia vowed to focus on the fan experience. “My job is to do great things for the community as a community asset, and we’re going to do some great things not only in the community, but with fan experience, and just doing the right thing all the time,” he stated in his introductory press conference in February.
Shortly thereafter, the Suns and Mercury announced that they would be partnering with Gray Television, who manages local Phoenix television stations KTVK (3TV) and Arizona’s Family Sports Network (channel 44) to broadcast games. The deal would provide access to 2.8 million local viewers for both NBA and WNBA games.
In turn, Diamond Sports sued the Suns and Mercury on May 3. There’s some legal jargon that went on, and SoSaysJ is probably more equipped to break down the blow-by-blow of what occurred. But today, Bally Sports agreed not to match the deal.
Alas, the Suns and Mercury will be on local TV for the first time in 20 years.
“I am excited to be able to deliver to our Suns and Mercury fans this industry-shifting partnership with Gray Television,” Ishbia said via an official press release. “We’ve had an incredible offseason, making a lot of exciting moves to build the championship-caliber Suns team our fans want. Now, this deal gives more than 2.8 million homes across Arizona access to Suns and Mercury games for free.”
“I am proud that we are at the forefront of this shift to make the game more accessible, which not only serves our fan base but also helps to build future NBA and WNBA fans.”
All nationally televised games will be broadcasted on their respective networks, but you no longer need cable to watch the Suns. As for streaming, we’ll keep you updated as details are made available.
Another W for Mat Ishbia.