With rising ticket sales, exorbitant concession prices, and streaming overtaking the marketplace, it would be difficult to argue against the idea that sports teams aren’t doing enough for the fan. But while the Regional Sports Network collapse wages on, the Phoenix Suns and owner Mat Ishbia believe they are trying to change that.
The Suns recently made headlines by joining up with Gray Television in Phoenix. They along with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury leapt off sinking Bally Sports Arizona, which recently saw the Arizona Diamondbacks depart as well.
Earlier in the week, Ishbia joined the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 to discuss a myriad of topics. Among them, of course, the new television deal for the team. Ishbia was clear how much of a priority it was to ensure that Suns fans could watch the team this season.
“Simplifying it, getting your product – our team, not my team – our team out to all of the fans is the biggest no-brainer of them all,” he said.
It’s a very matter-of-fact line, and probably an accurate one as well. There’s nothing easier, either, than putting games on local over-the-air television. It provides the biggest launching pad to get it out to as big an audience as you can attain.
Ishbia also added that while the new linear-streaming combination might not match the revenue of the regional sports network model, it will make the Suns more widely available for their fans.
“I know fans are appreciative and happy. I’m excited about it. It was a big, big deal and hopefully, it changes the sports landscape where other owners follow because it’s the right thing to do for the fan. It might not be the right financial thing to do in some situations, but it’s the right thing to do and that’s our job as stewards of the organization.”
So while it’s rare to see an owner be so pro-fan, Mat Ishbia certainly achieved that feat this week.