A bankruptcy judge in Texas stopped the Phoenix Suns from moving their televised matches away from cable network Bally Sports Arizona and onto over-the-air channels owned by Gray Television Inc.
CNBC reported that Judge Christopher Lopez halted the Suns' decision, ruling Wednesday that they cannot leave their current agreement with Bally Sports Arizona, the parent company of Diamond Sports Group, without both parties agreeing.
Diamond Sports is in bankruptcy proceedings, and its future is uncertain. The cable company still owes Arizona Diamondbacks money for broadcasting their games in 2023.
Diamond Sports filed a motion earlier this month asking for a stop to prevent Suns owners from proceeding with the new television deal. The Suns announced their new media rights agreement late in April. It was the first NBA TV contract in recent history to allow fans to view games without cable or satellite packages.
The Suns' contract with Gray, which owns KTVK (3TV Arizona's Family), KPHO (5TV Arizona's Family CBS5), and KPHE (AZ Family Sport Network) statewide -- required a minimum 70 games to be broadcast on Gray's networks. At least 40 games were scheduled for KTVK during the regular season and the rest on KPHE. It would have begun next season and lasted for up to five seasons.
CNBC reported that Lopez claimed that this agreement was in violation of the bankruptcy code because the Suns had not complied with the agreement they already had with Diamond Sports. Reuters reported that the ruling stated that the new TV contract was void as Diamond Sports had a right to negotiate a contract extension.
Ballys' contract expired at the end 2022-2023 of the regular season. The Suns claimed that Diamond's rejection of a "final offer" made in October meant the new agreement was not in violation of the contract which gave Diamond the right of first refusal for any new deals.
According to documents filed by Diamond, when Diamond rejected the October offer, it 'expressedly told the Suns it would like continue negotiations with them to find a way to continue their 12-year relationship'.
The Suns also announced that they had signed a deal to stream the Suns' and Mercurys' games through interactive video company Kiswe. Kiswe is creating a streaming service for Suns or Mercury fans that can be accessed through an app. The ruling also stopped the streaming deal.