In an interesting turn of events, the Phoenix Mercury will be exempted from a federal bankruptcy judge’s recent ruling, even though the Phoenix Suns had their new media rights deal with Gray Television and Kiswe voided.
According to AZ Central, “The Mercury had a different agreement with Bally Sports Arizona,” which is why the team will begin their local broadcasting on Gray Television and Kiswe starting on May 25. The WNBA’s regular season begins on Friday, May 19, but the Mercury’s first two regular season games will be televised on ESPN, due to the immense national interest in the return of Brittney Griner to the court.
While the Suns announced the deals with Gray and Kiswe last month, the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing Bally Sports Arizona parent company Diamond Sports’ bankruptcy case ruled that the deals “violated the rights of the incumbent regional sports channel under the bankruptcy code,” per The Athletic,
Bankruptcy judge Christopher Lopez ruled that by agreeing to the deals with Gray and Kiswe, the Suns violated the automatic stay put in place when Diamond entered bankruptcy proceedings. While Lopez blocked the move for the Suns, that ruling has not affected the Mercury, who agreed upon a two-year deal with Gray.
As of the writing of this article, the Mercury’s official team schedule has KTVK (Arizona’s Family 3TV) and the statewide KPHE (AZ Family Sports Network) as the two networks broadcasting next Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Lynx, plus Kiswe as the streaming option. The game can also be viewed on Amazon Prime Video and Bally Sports North, the Lynx’s local broadcast.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the Suns, as the ruling doesn’t mean that the Suns’ games will be on Bally Sports Arizona during the 2023-24 season. There’s still a way to go from Diamond’s bankruptcy proceedings being finished. At the same time, the Mercury are surprisingly not in the same boat and can move forward with being exempt.