Jazz games will continue to be on AT&T SportsNet during the 2021-22 season, after the franchise signed a one-year extension to its previous TV deal during the 2020 offseason, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.
The team first signed a contract with AT&T SportsNet — then Fox Sports Net — in 2009. That deal paid the Jazz approximately $20 million per year for a 12-year contract that expired at the end of the 2021 season.
But in the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Jazz management and AT&T SportsNet management agreed to continue their relationship for at least another season. The deal was completed before the sale of the franchise from Larry H. Miller Group of Companies to new owner Ryan Smith.
It’s unclear how much AT&T SportsNet will pay the Jazz for the rights to broadcast their games in 2021-22. What is clear, though, is that the rights to broadcast Jazz games are quite valuable. Of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Jazz’s 5.9 average rating on locally broadcast Jazz games this season ranked second, only slightly behind the Golden State Warriors’ 5.96 rating.
As a point of comparison, the Milwaukee Bucks’ sixth-ranked TV ratings earned just a 2.69 rating, and in a smaller TV market than Salt Lake City’s. Fox Sports Wisconsin paid the Bucks about $28 million last season as part of a deal signed in 2018.
AT&T SportsNet, and in particular, its Rocky Mountain channel, is available on most of the traditional cable and satellite options in Utah. But AT&T SportsNet has been harder to find on online streaming services, which has frustrated fans.
Right now, AT&T SportsNet is available on just one online TV streaming service: AT&T TV. The least-expensive AT&T TV package that includes AT&T SportsNet costs $85/mo, which is a higher cost than some other streaming services. Fans — especially those with Google Fiber TV, which is being discontinued after July 31 in Utah — are curious about what else might be out there.
The Jazz say that they’re working on more streaming options for fans.
“Better access to broadcasts remains a top priority for future seasons, and we are pursuing ways to improve viewing options of Jazz games for fans,” Frank Zang, Jazz senior vice president of communications, said.
That echoes Smith’s words when he purchased the team; he said that he wants to explore new ways fans can stay connected to the team that aren’t necessarily the traditional cable or satellite TV package.
“We have different cohorts of fans: We have fans who are younger, we have fans who are digital first, we have fans who just want to sit in the Lazyboy and watch,” Smith pointed out. “And you know what? All of those are perfect. We want all the fans. And so I do believe that we can do better at not just the one size fits all.”
“I’m excited for that challenge,” he said. “And this is right in our wheelhouse.”
After this deal expires, Smith will have the opportunity to lead the Jazz’s broadcasting plans — perhaps the team’s most critical window to its fans — according to his vision.