Ryan Smith: I Want Jazz Fans To Watch Games ‘In Any Format’
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith said his goal for the team’s next broadcast deal is to create the easiest viewing experience for fans, in any format.
In an interview with Hans Olsen and Scott Garrard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone, Smith laid out his thoughts on the Jazz TV broadcast negotiations.
“I want every single Jazz fan, no matter where they are in the state and beyond, to be able to watch our games in any format that they want to,” Smith said, “and I want it to be easy.”
The Jazz’s current contract with AT&T SportsNet will expire this offseason and the team will have a new broadcast partner next year.
Last week, Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of AT&T SportsNet informed 10 MLB, NHL, and NBA teams, including the Jazz, that they were getting out of regional sports beginning on March 31.
“I think our partnership with AT&T has been great,” Smith said, “but at the same time, [only] being able to provide our games to 30, 40, 50 percent of the possible fans in the state is not ideal for anyone.”
Dish Network, one of the largest television providers in the state hasn’t offered AT&T SportsNet for several seasons, leaving fans wanting to find the games with limited options.
The Jazz have been working to find a solution to the problem for several seasons, but have remained on AT&T SportsNet in the interim.
While the team’s broadcast future remains up in the air, Smith said he’s taking a hands-on approach with the next contract.
“These partnerships need to be journeys together, as opposed to — we signed a deal and we don’t look at it for 10 years — that never goes well,” Smith said. “I think we’re entering a new phase of these types of partnerships and I’m excited [about] where it’s going to be.”
AT&T SportsNet announced it is getting out of the Regional Sports Network business as of March 31.
Will @utahjazz fans still be able to watch the final 5 games of the regular season?#TakeNote https://t.co/2ilaclVv4t
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) February 27, 2023
How fans consume games has changed dramatically since the Jazz last signed a long-term distribution contract.
In addition to A&T SportsNet dropping their regional sports networks, Diamond, which carries the broadcast rights for 40 professional sports team teams is also preparing to file for bankruptcy, leaving those organizations to find new homes.
With the current distribution model failing at a surprising rate, Smith said the Jazz are prepared for their next TV deal to be less lucrative than their current arrangement.
“We believe in the product and we believe that it’ll work itself out down the road, and we’re gonna have to take a bite at it,” Smith said. “But it is what it is, and the most important thing is our fan experience and that we get it out there for everyone.”
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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.
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