Why One Sports Team’s Big Move Could Trigger The Fall of Cable

The Utah Jazz are ditching cable.

For the 2023-24 NBA season, the Utah Jazz will be airing their games on a local television station and on a streaming service, team owner Ryan Smith announced on Tuesday, June 20.

All non-nationally televised Jazz games (a season ago there were only four nationally televised Jazz games) will be aired on KJZZ, a TV station based in Salt Lake City that’s owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

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Smith Entertainment Group, the team’s parent company, has launched a production company called SEG media. That group is creating a new paid-subscription service that will begin in October.

“We know how much our fans love the Jazz, and this is our way to make sure that everyone can catch every second of the game, both inside the state of Utah and outside,” Smith said in a video posted on Twitter.

The streaming service will also provide subscribers with other behind the scenes videos on the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz are following the model that the Phoenix Suns and Mercury pursued in April when it announced it would be ditching cable sports network Bally Sports, whose parent company Diamond Sport filed for bankruptcy in March. The Suns would also triple its reach through free television broadcasting with Gray Television.

“The media world is changing. … We’re going to be the leaders starting off with a new way of thinking about it,” Suns owner Matt Ishbia, who purchased the team for $4 billion earlier this year, said in April.

However, the Suns strategy was blocked in May by a judge who said they “violated” a clause in their contract with Diamond Sports.

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There have also been other strategies in the direct-to-consumer space with sports, most prominently in New York, where Madison Square Garden Entertainment offers a package to streaming games for teams like the NBA’s New York Knicks and NHL’s New York Rangers. 

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