Utah Jazz games aren’t as easy to watch as they once were.
As the Jazz enter the final year of a TV deal with AT&T SportsNet to broadcast Jazz games — a 12-year, $240 million deal originally signed in 2009 that the team chose to extend during the pandemic prior to last season — cord-cutting is more popular than ever before. This season, some TV providers are also participating in further “cord-cutting” too, making it so that the AT&T SportsNet channel isn’t in some packages.
So let’s dig in to the current Jazz TV landscape, as complicated as it is. You want to watch Jazz games? Let’s figure it out together.
Do you want to watch games on a TV with a cable or satellite subscription?
Listen, you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. You just want to watch Jazz games on an old-school TV with an old-school cable or satellite package.
In the most populated Utah zip codes, you have two choices for standard providers that carry AT&T SportsNet: Xfinity/Comcast or DirecTV. That’s it.
Comcast’s charges are famously byzantine: Here’s their 4-page document of prices for their various bundles and all of the add-ons. You’ll need at least the middle-tier TV service variously described as “Extra” or “Popular.” That starts at $70 per month by itself, but bundling or signing up for a contract might lower costs. But that monthly charge also doesn’t include the Broadcast TV fee ($18.45/mo), TV boxes ($5 or $10/mo per TV), or taxes. Nor, cruelly, does it include the required Regional Sports Fee ($9.80/mo). Get a full quote from a Comcast representative before you sign up.
DirecTV, and its traditional satellite service, meanwhile, does the bait and switch. They make you sign up for a 24-month contract. For the first 12 months, the cheapest package (called “Choice”) with AT&T SportsNet is $69/mo. But in the second 12 months, they charge you $122/mo. And that also doesn’t include the dreaded and required Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo.
In some rural ZIP codes, or ZIP codes just outside of Utah but close enough to potentially get AT&T SportsNet, there are some TV services that also have AT&T SportsNet. Those include:
• All West Communications (starting at $99/month for the plan that includes AT&T SportsNet)
• Central TelCom Services (starting at $100.20/month for the plan that includes AT&T SportsNet)
• TDS (doesn’t sell TV on its own, but does sell packages bundling internet and the TV service that includes AT&T SportsNet starting at $111/month, before taxes and fees)
• Emery Telcom (starting at $81.75/month to Moab, Blanding and Monticello for the plan that includes AT&T SportsNet, starting at $99.57 to Carbon and Emery)
CenturyLink discontinued its Prism TV service in early 2021, which did have AT&T SportsNet — but now CenturyLink bundles ask users to sign up for DirecTV or Dish. Google Fiber’s TV service also had AT&T SportsNet, and it too was discontinued in Utah in the summer of 2021.
Until last week, Dish Network offered AT&T SportsNet, but it no longer does. Its contract with AT&T SportsNet expired, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be extended.
In particular, Dish has been letting all of its contracts with regional sports networks expire across the country — AT&T SportsNet was actually one of the last ones remaining. “It doesn’t look good that the regional sports nets will ever be on Dish again,” Dish CEO Charlie Ergen told investors, as Sportico reported. Ergen said that the networks weren’t good deals for the company, and TV watchers weren’t very attached to them. If you’re a Dish subscriber and want to watch Jazz games, you’ll need to look elsewhere barring a nationwide change of heart. I wouldn’t bet on it.
If you live outside of the Jazz’s TV footprint, which includes Utah and parts of Wyoming and Idaho, you can purchase NBA League Pass through your cable or satellite provider, likely for $200 per season. For years and years, Comcast’s version of NBA League Pass was inferior, as it included only one HD channel for the entire league. That changed for the 2020-21 season. Now, each team gets its own HD feed.
Do you want to stream Jazz games over the internet?
This section has been updated on Oct. 11, 2021, with news that AT&T SportsNet has contracted with FuboTV.
If you don’t live in the Jazz’s TV footprint, in Utah, or parts of Wyoming and Idaho, it’s easy: sign up for NBA League Pass. If you’re unsure if you live in the Jazz’s TV area, scroll to the “Blackout Notice” section of this page to type in your zip code to see if Jazz games will be blacked out. NBA League Pass will cost between $120-$250 per season.
If you live in Utah, you now have two options: signing up for DirecTV Stream, or signing up for FuboTV. Those are two of what are called “over-the-top” services, which means that, like YouTube TV, Sling, Philo and other competitors, they try to emulate the services of traditional TV through an internet connection.
DirecTV Stream, and in particular, its “Choice” package — which starts at $85/mo — was the first of those services that has access to AT&T SportsNet. Unlike its terrestrial TV providers, it doesn’t charge a Regional Sports Fee or Broadcast TV fee, however. Because it’s internet-based, it doesn’t require a specialized TV box, though you can get one for an extra $5/mo.
AT&T SportsNet in the Rocky Mountain region announced a deal on Oct. 11 that means the channel will be carried on FuboTV for those in Utah and Nevada, even on its basic “Starter” package which costs $65/mo. FuboTV has the Pac-12 Network, which DirecTV services don’t, but doesn’t feature TBS or TNT — on which four Jazz games will be exclusively aired this season.
However, the competition at YouTube, Sling, Philo, and others don’t have AT&T SportsNet. And many local Jazz fans are frustrated at the proposal at spending more for Jazz games — $65/month vs. $200 per season — than outsiders.
Some who pay for AT&T SportsNet through Comcast or DirecTV terrestrial television have reported success in streaming games through either the AT&T SportsNet app or through those services’ streaming protocols. Of course, those customers also have paid subscriptions through the normal channels, described above.
There are, frankly, a number of illegal services that will bring NBA games to interested watchers. The simplest is probably paying for a VPN, a “Virtual Private Network,” that convinces NBA League Pass software that a Utah-based watcher is from a further-away location. The NBA League Pass’ terms, though, expressly forbid that. Otherwise, there are sketchy internet services and websites that have Jazz games available, but risk spyware, malware, and other negative effects to the would-be Jazz watcher.
Honestly, it’s as complicated as a landscape as Jazz fans have ever faced. Before the Jazz’s cable TV deal, games were available on free-TV network KJZZ, then owned by Jazz management. Now, cable subscribers are fewer and farther between than ever before, as more and more customers go with cord-cutting options. Jim Olson, Utah Jazz president, told fans in a statement that “The availability of streaming choices and digital consumption remains a top priority for our organization,” but there aren’t a lot of obvious benefits for fans in their efforts so far.
The Jazz’s AT&T SportsNet deal’s expiration at the end of the 2020-21 season will allow the organization to renegotiate terms, but it’s going to be a choice for new ownership: Will they embrace new streaming options for fans, or prioritize financial terms from traditional TV partners?
In the meantime, fans for this season will have to make do in one of the most promising Jazz years in recent memory.