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Jazz fans were right (again) about TV deal request

Fans were embarrassed by media and team personalities for suggesting innovation with the new TV deal but are proven right (again) as the LA Clippers announce groundbreaking product

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NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz
Jazz fans pose in front of the brass note ahead of the 2022 NBA Playoffs between Utah and Dallas
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

For a handful of seasons, Utah Jazz fans have raised their voices demanding change and innovation to how the franchise delivers its product visually. The LA Clippers just announced a groundbreaking change that achieved the vision Jazz fans were dismissed for.

Per AP News, the LA Clippers unveiled a “new direct-to-consumer viewing option”. Called “ClipperVision”, the service debuts an innovative approach to the primary distribution platform of team games.

Among the vast details reported, here are some of the highlights:

  • Direct-to-consumer product (aka Clipper franchise -> Clipper fans; no TV network/carrier middle men)
  • Planned to feature six stream options (aka distribution methods, broadcasts, etc.)
  • No paid-television subscription required (aka don’t need Comcast, DirecTV, etc.)
  • Available in-market
  • Projected to stream more than 70 games (remaining games available on free, local network [below])
  • Price of $199 per season, per Variety

As Clippers President Gillian Zucker remarked, “It’s inevitable. This is where things are going. It’s obvious. The speed at which the pickup takes place, that’s the only question mark.”

This announcement comes on the heels of the franchise also announcing a “free, over-the-air TV” deal with KTLA 5, a KJZZ equivalent local network. They will air over a dozen regular and preseason Clipper games for free.

Owner Steve Ballmer said, “Now we get to transform the sports viewing experience. And what you see here is what I would call version one.”

This kind of innovation and market disruption is exactly what fans have been clamoring for.

Fans have become fed up with AT&T SportsNet as the home of Utah Jazz basketball. With carriers being dropped by the network and abysmal production quality, fans have been desperate for alternate options.

Even Jazz owner Ryan Smith is aware of the issues and solutions, filling the fanbase with hope for change.

Historically, all video media was localized to television networks. In the early days, local stations broadcasted content via satellite. Then came the rise of cable TV services delivering a host of networks for a monthly fee.

Today, we’re seeing a major shift to curated, stream able content direct to consumer from networks (Peacock via NBC) and TV services (Hulu). This is the future and fans are clamoring for an innovative leader to blaze the trail within professional sports.

Fortunately, some change has occurred including DirecTV Stream and FuboTV offering AT&T SportsNet in a streamable subscription model. This solves AN issue for many but also ignores the two key issues: 1) AT&T SportsNet is butchering the product delivery and 2) the content isn’t curated and direct to consumer.

This means Jazz fans have to miss a first-look at the team during preseason because AT&T SportsNet is covering the Colorado Rockies and the price tag to watch the Jazz remains in the $70 per month range.

The fanbase continues to request options that approximate the curated, direct-to-consumer, stream able content that is dominating the entertainment market as we speak. People want to watch on their phones or TVs or computers, to only pay for what they like, and receive unique, interesting content.

At SLC Dunk, we’ve proposed options, debunked myths, and represented what fans are actually asking for. The consensus response from media and team personalities (YouTube link below for example) has been a slew of fair, though albeit condescending, counterarguments, including:

“No team would give up the TV money to go to a free network or service”

“The math just doesn’t work for the team to balance the opportunity cost”

“Fans are just cheap and want to watch the team for free”

“There’s no precedent in professional sports”

While fair and legitimate to an extent, the major message to fans when Ryan Smith took over was that a wealthy, consumer experience focused, UTAH JAZZ FAN would be willing to disrupt the industry.

Furthermore, the more that time passes, the fewer legs each of the counterarguments has to stand on.

The Clippers just moved to a free service, a team in the most attractive market with a championship contending squad. Apple TV will be the exclusive home for Major League Soccer for 10 years beginning in 2023. Likewise, the NFL announced Sunday Ticket will move from its current home at DirecTV to a streaming service.

Dozens of polls have circulated Utah Jazz Twitter discussing payment options, as opposed to an exclusively free service:

The Clippers price at $199 a season would translate to around $17/mo (being an up-front, lump sum, there’s no reason to “cancel” during the season therefore we look at it as $199 / 12 months; furthermore, few cancel their traditional cable subscription during the summer either).

This price falls right in line with the majority of poll results.

The fact is Jazz fans were right (again) to demand innovation for the TV deal. We believed Ryan Smith could be the trailblazer for the league but fellow tech-giant Steve Ballmer will be leading the pack.

So Jazz fans, take a bow and quick victory lap. You were right!

Now, let’s put away the finger pointing and sit back after a well earned Leonardo DiCapprio laugh meme, and talk brass tax: this is glorious news for the future of watching Utah Jazz basketball.

With precedence becoming a reality and the Salt Lake Tribune reporting on the priorities for the future, signs are pointing to the REAL change fans are looking for.

On the heels of the Larsen’s report, Locked On Jazz noted that the team has been kicking the subject down the road by not signing a long deal. While frustrating, it does corroborate the universal reporting the Utah wants to get it right immediately.

Per Andy Larsen, the team is intent on a deal to offer their visual product through traditional TV packages, bundled streaming, and pay-per-view streaming.

Hopefully the innovation we’re seeing around the industry makes its way to the Jazz. Ideas such as the following would really resonate with the market:

  • Multiple broadcasts (i.e. radio broadcast + TV, former Jazz men, or super fan feeds)
  • Multiple price tiers (i.e. $10 option with limited content, distributions, and/or featuring ads; $30 option with exclusive content and variations; $50 option bundling League Pass and more)
  • Interactive sections for fan engagement within the platform
  • Next level stats and tracking, similar to what we’re seeing on Thursday Night Football on Prime

All this and more isn’t just possible but probable.

.Fans were right and consistent with the evolution of the entertainment industry. Much like the font and the presence of purple in the rebrand, it looks like fan feedback is winning out yet again and inspiring change!

Hopefully that comes to fruition next season and we can consume our team in a whole new and improved way.