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Utah Jazz games moving to free broadcast TV

The games will air on Sinclair-owned KJZZ in the Salt Lake City market.

The games will air on Sinclair-owned KJZZ in the Salt Lake City market.

The Utah Jazz will move their regular season basketball games off a regional cable channel in favor of free broadcast television in October, the team announced this week.

On Tuesday, the Utah Jazz announced it had reached a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group to return games to KJZZ (Channel 14), an independent station that offered Jazz games for 16 seasons before they moved to pay television.

For several years, Jazz games have aired on AT&T SportsNet, a regional sports channel that was acquired by Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) last year. WBD has announced plans to pull out of the regional sports business by the end of the year.

As part of the agreement, the Jazz will also form a new entertainment division called SEG Media that will develop and launch a direct-to-consumer, subscription-based streaming service where basketball fans can access live games over the Internet.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. The agreement covers only in-market games, and does not include nationally-televised games. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has approved the deal, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“This is a dream for us,” Ryan Smith, the owner of the Utah Jazz, said in a statement. “As an organization, this has been one of the top three things since I got here. … There’s a lot more that we can do, and now we are going to be able to do some really cool things.”

The deal continues a trend of professional sports — mainly basketball, but also hockey and baseball — moving from pay television to free broadcast stations amid an implosion of the regional sports television model.

In April, the E. W. Scripps Company said it would offer national telecasts and streaming access to games played by teams associated with the Women’s National Basketball Association, or WNBA. Last month, Scripps said it will offer regular season hockey games from the Vegas Golden Knights on its Las Vegas-based independent station KMCC (Channel 34), starting later this year.

Another professional basketball team, the Phoenix Suns, announced their intention to move games off regional sports channels owned by Sinclair’s Diamond Sports in favor of broadcasting the games on Gray Television-owned KTVK (Channel 3). Diamond Sports filed a legal challenge seeking to block the deal, citing its ongoing bankruptcy case and a still in-force contract with the Suns over telecast rights. The judge approved Diamond Sports’ request for a stay, effectively blocking the deal.