Inside the Utah Jazz’s bold new TV plan

Tim BontempsespnSeptember 27, 2023, 11:00 am ETread 5 minutes

In almost every way, Ryan Smith is the opposite of the typical NBA owner.

He often wears a backward baseball cap, including during a recent Zoom interview with ESPN. At 45, he’s still young enough to get on the court and play basketball, as he did in a shooting contest with Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy last week.

And he’s a rare person who grew up rooting for a team as a child and then found business success that allowed him to purchase that same team as an adult, as both he and NBA commissioner Adam Silver Has told.

Smith says, all of this helped him decide that the best thing to move his franchise forward was to bring Jazz games back to over-the-air broadcasts on local channel KJZZ, as well as to stream the games. A subscription service was also to be started. 2023–24 season.

“I was a fan,” Smith told ESPN from his office overlooking the court inside the team’s Salt Lake City practice facility last week. “Like, I know the problem [of] Going, ‘Why is my game blacked out? Why am I dealing with this? Why can’t I find my game? I am traveling somewhere on the road. Why is it so complicated? Where are my streaming options? Is this League Pass?’

“To be honest, it was just a ton of friction. And second, I believe that RSNs and local cable, there’s going to be a lot of movement in that area, and I personally don’t think Jazz needs its We need to be a part of that roller coaster.”

In the wake of AT&T SportsNet’s exit from the regional sports network business earlier this year, the franchise decided to air its games on a combination of over-the-air broadcasts of all games on KJZZ and a newly created streaming service on Wednesdays. Unveiled his plan in the morning. This was called Jazz+, giving the team full control over its local broadcast rights.

Doing so comes without the huge revenue payouts that come with an RSN deal, which has served as the backbone of sports teams and leagues for decades. But they are going away as the cable industry has been struggling with a declining customer base for years.

The Phoenix Suns have made a similar move and moved their games to local television for this upcoming season. In both cases, the teams highlighted how much broader their reach would be by having every game available to fans instead of a cable subscription. For example, the Jazz said their reach has increased from about 1.2 million people last season to 3.2 million under the current plan.

However, wide reach doesn’t exactly guarantee big revenues. Moving to an over-the-air broadcast model means these teams will not receive the large checks they have received from RSNs for years.

The Jazz were reportedly making approximately $20 million per season from their deal with AT&T. When asked directly on a call with ESPN last week how long it would take to get back to the same level of revenue under the prior deal — short, medium or long term — Jazz president Jim Olson chose a middle ground.

“This is going to happen in the medium term,” Olson said. “We’re already seeing some results where, you know, we’re just starting to take a bite of that apple, but we’re already seeing things that are very promising for where we’re going. Are. And so I, I will keep it in the medium term [that] We’ll get back to where we know we should be.”

A key part of Utah’s plan to do so is the creation of Jazz+, which officially went on sale Wednesday morning. While fans nationally will still be able to watch via streaming or mobile devices via NBA League Pass, for local fans – those within a 150-mile radius of the Delta Center, which includes parts of Idaho and Wyoming – the Jazz Will work as +. Their only way to watch games is on a computer, phone or on the go.

Fans will have the option to either purchase individual games for $5, pay $15.50 per month for a monthly subscription, or purchase an annual subscription for $125.50, which, when purchased from now through October 24, will also include a pair of Upper Bowls. Tickets to a select Jazz home game.

In addition, the subscription service will also feature behind-the-scenes content, such as the shooting competition between Smith and Hardy – the first episode of the ongoing series, “Shoot Your Shot with Coach Hardy.”

Smith joked that despite being an avid fan of the team, he did not realize when he purchased the franchise how much time he and the rest of the team would spend at the practice facility, and how essential a part of the business it was. . , It was these kinds of insights that led him to hope that the original content ideas he created would give equally passionate fans the kind of information they want about their favorite team.

Still, the underlying purpose behind Jazz+ is to provide a vehicle for fans who either don’t have a TV or want to watch games on the go or on their electronic devices.

“We’ve done a lot of research on this, and frankly, a lot of people have really moved away from TV in their homes, and are streaming on iPads or laptops or even their cell phones,” Olson said. Have been.” “And, again, in an effort to reach everybody, maybe you have a job that takes you away from home in the evenings, but you have the luxury of jumping in and watching part of the game, the entire game… It’s really just making sure that we’re making our games available no matter who you are, where you are, what your situation is. And then adding this other content is just another benefit.”

Teams in the NBA and other sports like MLB and the NHL, where the RSN model is also prevalent, will be keenly watching to see how Utah’s new TV platform fares, and whether Olson believes the medium Same revenue can come back in. -The period may be fruitful.

“I think every team has to look at the variables and work out their own kind of formula of, ‘Hey, it’s going to take more work to get started, but in the long run you’ll get that, that freedom,’ Well, “the freedom to go and build your own brand,” said Smith, who comes from a tech background as the founder of Qualtrics.

“The margins in the NBA aren’t huge. It’s not like a tech company, where you get 40 percent margin that’s just lying there. We put everything back in. So, a lot of teams can’t accept that margin. Hit. What Makes Utah Different? …Since [the Jazz signed its last deal with AT&T] 10 years ago, the market size had increased so much [much] In Utah, it is the fastest growing state and there are three cities within 90 miles that are in the top three fastest growing cities. He joins. So we looked at it and said, ‘Look, the money we’re making, compared to the size of the market… there’s a dislocation here that we can take advantage of.’

Leave a Comment

“The Untold Story: Yung Miami’s Response to Jimmy Butler’s Advances During an NBA Playoff Game” “Unveiling the Secrets: 15 Astonishing Facts About the PGA Championship”