Portland, Ore. » The days of Jazz broadcasts on KJZZ are over, with the team announcing Tuesday evening that it has signed an exclusive 12-year agreement with FSN Utah to carry Jazz games through the 2020-21 season.
"I probably won't be watching them then," joked 67-year-old Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. Deron Williams, it's worth noting, will be approaching his 37th birthday at the end of the Jazz's agreement with the regional sports network.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Chris Baum, the Jazz's senior vice president of broadcasting and corporate sales, described it as helping provide the small-market franchise with the revenue to stay competitive into the next decade.
"We want to put a championship team on the floor every year, we want to do everything we can to compete in the NBA," Baum said. "In order to do that, you have to be able to operate financially with the elite teams in the league.
"This deal puts us in great position to put a winning team on the floor every year -- it definitely does that."
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said: "I think it's a credit to the Miller family that [FSN] had enough confidence in us to know that we were worth a new deal and I think we have certainly shown what kind of team we've been and hopefully where we're going."
With KJZZ televising only 16 games last season, Baum said the Jazz have been "slowly migrating" from over-the-air broadcasts in recent years, adding that they were one of the last teams to do so.
FSN Utah will carry 77 games this season -- all in high definition -- up from 60 last season. The network has a broader footprint than KJZZ as well, stretching beyond Utah into Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Montana and potentially the Pacific Northwest.
"It gives us a consistent home for Jazz games for our fans, which is important for us," Baum said.
What the loss of the Jazz means for KJZZ, which was bought by late Jazz owner Larry Miller in 1993, remains to be seen. The channel's schedule is dominated by sitcoms and syndicated programming, with Baum saying, "We just move forward with that."
Only a year ago, the Jazz and DirecTV battled over a retransmission agreement for KJZZ, urging fans to call the satellite provider and demand the channel. Baum said the Jazz "didn't anticipate at that time" that soon they no longer would be carrying games on KJZZ.
He added that the Jazz and FSN Utah were operating under a three-year contract at the time. "We didn't think we would be renegotiating this type of long-term deal with FSN," Baum said. "We played the cards we were dealt."
FSN Utah's first broadcast this season will be the Jazz's opener next Wednesday at Denver. The network has carried Jazz games since the 1988-89 season.
Tim Griggs, FSN Utah's senior vice president and general manager, issued a statement saying in part, "The loyalty and passion of the Jazz fan base has consistently ranked among the highest in the league."
Griggs went on to credit Jazz president Randy Rigby and the Miller group with "having successfully cultivated a dedicated following throughout the state of Utah and the Rocky Mountain region."