Ryan Smith, the owner of the Utah Jazz basketball team, has announced plans to bring Jazz games back to over-the-air broadcasts on local channel KJZZ, in addition to a subscription streaming service. Starting in the 2023-24 season, fans will be able to watch games on television, eliminating the frustrations of blacked-out games and limited streaming options.
Being a lifelong Jazz fan himself, Smith wanted to enhance the fan experience and make games more accessible. This decision comes as regional sports networks (RSNs) across the country face challenges due to declining subscriber bases and changes in the cable industry landscape.
By expanding the reach of Jazz games through over-the-air broadcasts, the team hopes to increase its audience from approximately 1.2 million to an impressive 3.2 million people. However, this broadcasting model will not bring in the same revenue payments as the team’s previous deal with AT&T SportsNet, which reportedly amounted to around $20 million per season.
To cater to the changing preferences of fans, the Jazz will also launch a new streaming service called Jazz+. This service will offer various options for fans, including the ability to buy individual games, subscribe on a monthly basis, or purchase a yearly subscription that includes additional benefits. Recognizing the growing trend of streaming games on tablets, laptops, and phones, the team believes that providing a streaming option is essential.
Utah’s decision to pursue this broadcasting model is expected to have reverberations throughout the NBA and other sports leagues that rely on RSNs. Other teams and leagues will closely watch the Jazz’s approach to determine the potential revenue implications and the opportunities it may present for long-term brand building.
Smith, optimistic about Utah’s unique market size and growth potential, believes that the Jazz are well positioned to take advantage of this new broadcasting approach. By prioritizing fan experience and adapting to changing viewing habits, the Jazz aim to create a sustainable model for sports broadcasting.
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