On Tuesday, Diamond Sports dropped the Arizona Diamondbacks from their stable of teams, leading MLB to take over the team’s media rights.
Diamondbacks games have aired on Bally Sports Arizona (and its predecessor, Fox Sports Arizona) since its inaugural season in 1998. MLB will begin producing and distributing Diamondbacks games on Tuesday.
Now, the RSN’s remaining pro team (following the Phoenix Suns’ departure to Gray Television earlier this summer) has stated their future.
The Arizona Coyotes, whose games have aired on the RSN since the team moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996, noted that they remain under contract with Bally Sports Arizona but “will continue to evaluate all of our options” if the carpet is pulled from under the franchise.
Here’s the full statement.
“We are fully aware of the developments regarding Bally Sports Arizona. The Arizona Coyotes remain under contract with Bally Sports Arizona, and remain hopeful that the network will continue to broadcast our games this season. Nonetheless, we will continue to evaluate all of our options, as needed, and will ensure that our great fans across the Valley are able to watch our games this fall. We will have no further comment until we have news to announce.”
Diamond Sports hasn’t dropped any NBA or NHL teams from their media rights deals during the company’s bankruptcy proceedings. However, the Suns’ departure shrank the ranks of NBA teams by one and pared Bally Sports Arizona down to just one big-four team. In other markets where Bally Sports has just one group, the RSN usually carries live games from other teams in nearby markets. For instance, Bally Sports New Orleans, Oklahoma air Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars games, and Pelicans and Thunder games.
But Phoenix seems like a different situation because it’s a city with an MLB and NBA team, while neither Oklahoma City nor New Orleans has an MLB or NHL team. Bally Sports Arizona likely couldn’t air games from the nearest teams it has rights to, the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Angels, because of the Suns’ and Diamondbacks’ territorial rights. That puts the RSN in a difficult position in the future, and one team’s games airing on the RSN might further chop down its carriage and make it even more unprofitable, despite Diamond owning the Coyotes’ direct-to-consumer digital streaming rights.