Bally Sports Arizona owner sues Suns, Mercury


UPDATED: MAY 3, 2023 AT 9:15 AM

Diamond Sports, the bankrupt operator of Bally Sports Arizona, sued the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, plus two media partners, on Wednesday after the teams announced moves to Gray Television and Kiswe, a streaming service, according to The Athletic.

The Suns and Mercury announced Friday that they have agreed to a five-year television and streaming deal, leaving the Bally Sports Arizona regional network.

The deal is “subject to NBA and WNBA approval and any necessary resolution with the applicable regional sports partner,” according to their press release.

The Suns were still under contract with Diamond Sports this season. But Diamond Sports has the right to match any new TV deal.

Diamond Sports, which on Friday issued a statement alleging the franchises breached their contract, believes the current deal remains in effect through this ongoing NBA season. The network was not scheduled to air any more Suns playoff games after the first round.

“The Suns’ failure to meet their contractual obligations and Diamond Arizona’s potential loss of approximately 70 games of NBA content provided by the Suns each season places Diamond Arizona’s business in significant jeopardy, thereby directly jeopardizing its ability to reorganize.” , Diamond wrote in the emergency motion to stay, according to The Athletic.

“The Suns’ willful disregard of their contractual obligations to Diamond Arizona is precisely the type of action against which the automatic stay is intended to protect.”

As The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan explains , Diamond believes the automatic suspension is part of the bankruptcy state, in which current contractual obligations are frozen to allow the company to reorganize.

Diamond sent a letter to the Suns and Gray before the new agreement was announced, according to Kaplan.

The week before the Suns announced the media deal, Diamond sent a letter to Gray and the Suns “demanding that (a) the Suns and Gray immediately cease and desist from entering into and announcing a new deal and (b) the Suns comply with their obligations under The agreement,” according to Diamond’s court filing. “Diamond Arizona made clear in both letters that it views the actions of the Suns and Gray as a willful violation of the automatic stay, a breach of contract by the Suns and, in Gray’s case, a tortious interference with Diamond Arizona’s Agreement with the Suns.” “

New Suns and Mercury owner Matt Ishbia said Burns and Gambo last week that he was not concerned about potential litigation from Diamond Sports.

“I’m not worried about it at all,” Ishbia said. “We do well with the fans and the community. … It’s really not even my concern. The reality is the company has its own issues, we wish them nothing but the best, they were great to us for a while.

“I hope they’re successful in everything they do, but we’re focused on what’s best for the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury and our fan base, and that’s why I’ve made this decision.”

Gray Television includes KTVK (Arizona’s Family 3TV), KPHO (Arizona’s Family CBS5) and statewide KPHE (AZ Family Sports Network), which will help the teams reach the Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma media markets. The deal also includes Kiswe, an interactive video company.

Suns and Mercury-branded Kiswe app subscribers will have game streaming available as part of the deal, which is designed to serve traditional TV users, cable users and cord cutters.

With the new deal, the franchises expect to reach 2.8 million households, tripling current availability, by being offered on traditional broadcast television as well as streaming.

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