The NBA and Diamond Sports Group have agreed to a deal that should keep NBA games on Bally Sports RSNs through the remainder of the 2023-24 season.
The deal, which came about as Diamond Sports Group has been in bankruptcy court for some time as it tries to reorganize its business, still needs to be approved by the court before it can officially move forward.
“We have reached an agreement with Diamond that, upon Court approval, will allow Diamond to continue distributing NBA games in its 15 markets for the 2023-24 season,” an NBA spokesperson said in a statement.
The agreement gives the NBA and its teams some certainty over its game broadcasts for the current season, as half of the league’s 30 teams — the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs — have their local games aired on a Bally Sports regional sports network.
As part of the deal, all existing RSN deals teams have with Bally Sports will be set to expire at the end of this season, regardless of how long they were supposed to last. But if Diamond continues to operate in any market, the team in that market will have the option to extend its existing agreement for one more year, sources said.
It also gives back games for Diamond Sports to license to an over-the-air station in a team’s home market.
“Our newly-signed agreements with the NBA, Comcast and our creditors reflect significant progress on Diamond’s path forward,” a Diamond Sports Group spokesperson said in a statement. “Upon Court approval, these agreements will enable Diamond to continue delivering live game broadcasts to fans throughout the 2023-24 NBA, NHL and MLB seasons. Diamond has been broadcasting NBA and NHL games and will continue to do so while the Court considers our motions, and while discussions with the NHL finalize with respect to their own new deal.”
All of this comes as the NBA is in the middle of negotiating its new national television deal for its broadcast rights as the current deal — which is split between ESPN and Turner Sports — is set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 season.
While the new deal is expected to see the league get a significant increase in revenue from its current deal, teams will still have to get through this year and next before seeing those increases.
The move to have more teams shift to having games be shown over the air — meaning on broadcast television — comes in the wake of both the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz choosing to do that from the start of this season after wrapping up their prior RSN deals last year.
Those teams, though, have acknowledged that in the short term they’ll take a revenue hit in order to have their games distributed to a much wider audience.
“It’s going to happen in the medium term,” Jazz team president Jim Olson told ESPN in September when asked how long returning to the same profit levels as under the prior RSN deal would take. “We’re already seeing some results happening where, you know, we’re just starting to take a bite of that apple, but we’re already seeing things that are very promising for where we’re headed. And so, I would put it in the medium term [that] we’re going to get back to where we know we need to be.”