The Phoenix Suns and Mercury move forward with groundbreaking agreement with Gray Sports
The GIST: The WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and their NBA brother squad, the Suns, announced Friday that they’ll both move forward with their previously reported TV deal with Gray Sports. The groundbreaking agreement is a possible preview of the local sports television future.
The background: The deal with Gray Television — a broadcasting company with 180 stations in 113 local U.S. markets — was initially announced in April, but a bankruptcy judge voided the partnership in May to give the previous rights holder, Diamond Sports, an opportunity to match the deal.
- Diamond Sports, which filed for bankruptcy in March, is the parent company of Bally Sports, the (now) former carrier of Suns and Mercury games. The company reportedly failed to match Gray Television’s offer, making April’s deal finally official.
The details: The revolutionary contract, whereby the teams sold all of their local media rights to the over-the-air broadcasting company, will provide nearly 3M households free access to Suns and Mercury games with distribution in Arizona’s three major markets: Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma.
- Not only does the deal give unprecedented, free access to Arizona’s NBA fans, it lays out the orange carpet for WNBA stans, too. A trailblazing sports partnership that includes women from the start? Yes, please!
Why it matters: Many expected this deal to serve as the blueprint for future sports media inks, but similar ones have already come to fruition. In June, the NBA’s Utah Jazz struck a comparable agreement with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, who owns and operates local Utah channels.
- Even more, these partnerships also prove that joint pro hoops ownership groups — like Monumental Sports & Entertainment (Washington Wizards and Mystics) and Pacers Sports & Entertainment (Indiana Pacers and Fever) — can snag the best of both worlds.