PHOENIX – Going, going, gone.
Baseball fans will no longer find Diamondbacks games on Bally Sports Arizona. A bankruptcy judge approved Diamond Sports Group’s request to end its contract with the team, allowing Major League Baseball to step in, starting Tuesday with the team’s game against the Atlanta Braves.
MLB will take over production and distribution of games, which will be available through a variety of services. Games can be seen free on MLB.com and Dbacks.com through Sunday, although subsequent viewing on those platforms will be fee-based. Local fans will be presented linear cable and streaming options including Cox, DirecTV, DirecTV STREAM, Fubo, Mediacom, Orbitel, Optimum/Suddenlink, Spectrum/Charter, TDS and Xfinity/Comcast.
Diamond Sports has been losing money on multiple MLB television rights deals, including its reported 20-year, $1.5 billion Diamondbacks agreement that began in 2015.
With streaming now a priority in the industry, the Diamondbacks will offer discounted prices for MLB.TV for the remainder of the season.
“This decision provides us with an opportunity to partner with Major League Baseball to produce high quality broadcasts of D-backs games on current platforms, expand access to include streaming options, and remove local blackouts that have been a fan frustration point for years,” Diamondbacks President, CEO and General Partner Derrick Hall said in a statement.
“We have enjoyed our partnership with Bally Sports Arizona and thank them for the longtime partnership. But we look forward to providing unprecedented access to our exciting team moving forward, including a greatly expanded reach of new households.”
Arizona fans that already have the all-teams subscription will have to also purchase the single-team Diamondbacks package in order to watch the games on MLB.TV.
The Diamondbacks are following the lead of their division rival, the San Diego Padres, who also split with Bally Sports.
“While we’re disappointed that Diamond Sports Group failed to live up to their contractual agreement with another club, we are taking this opportunity to reimagine the distribution model, remove blackouts on local games, improve the telecast, and expand the reach of Diamondbacks games by 4.7 million homes,” Noah Garden, MLB Chief Revenue Officer, said in a statement.
Diamond Sports will broadcast other sports and baseball games for the rest of the season.
“Given the inability to reach an agreement with the Diamondbacks and MLB, we have rejected that rights contract, which had financial terms that were not aligned with Diamond’s long-term plan,” Diamond Sports Group said in a statement. “We are no longer broadcasting Diamondbacks games. We value the relationships we have built with the Diamondbacks and their passionate fans, and we wish them the best going forward.”
The Arizona Coyotes are the last professional local team with Bally Sports Arizona and remain under contact. The Phoenix Suns and Mercury left the network recently, agreeing to a deal with Gray Television, and the USL’s Phoenix Rising opted to go with Arizona’s Family Sports and Entertainment instead of renewing with Bally Sports.
Suns and Mercury owner Matt Ishbia said he wanted to give more viewing access to Arizonans.
“I am excited to be able to deliver to our Suns and Mercury fans this industry-shifting partnership with Gray Television,” Ishbia said. “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.”
The Diamondbacks are entering a new broadcast era today against the Braves. They played their final game on Bally Sports Arizona Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, losing 7-5.
On MLB.TV, watching the Diamondbacks will cost $19.99 a month or $54.99 for the rest of the seasons. Games can also be found on Cox Yurview channels (Phoenix channel 4 and Tucson channel 7); DirecTV channel 686-3; Spectrum channel 304; and Concast Xfinity channel 1261.
Games are not available on YouTube TV at this time.
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