Jazz owner explains decision to move games back to free TV

Jun 21, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2023, 10:41 am

Crews finish placing the Delta Center name on the former Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, on May 25,...

Crews finish placing the Delta Center name on the former Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, on May 25, 2023. The Delta Center name is returning after being replaced in 2006. Jazz owner Ryan Smith announced on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 that Jazz games will be returning to free TV. (Alejandro Lucero, KSL NewsRadio)

(Alejandro Lucero, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith is bringing the Jazz back to all Utahns in the form of free TV.

On Tuesday, Smith announced Jazz games will return to KJZZ. The television station had aired the Jazz games for years before big cable TV contracts lured the broadcast rights away. More recently, certain TV providers weren’t carrying the games.

Smith joined KSL NewsRadio on Wednesday to discuss the big announcement.


Dave Noriega asked, “So, why was it so important to say no to the big TV contracts and to provide them (the games) for free?”

Smith says the team is taking a big gamble.

“It’s definitely expensive, there’s no question,” he said. “I think that it’s a big bet. It is a big bet, and there is no one in the NBA or professional sports that is basically doing what we’re doing if really start to unpack it. We are essentially standing up our own medium production company. We’re pulling everything in house, everything in house. And we’re betting on ourselves and we’re betting on Utah fans.”

How long will the Jazz stay on free TV?

Smith says the team doesn’t have a long-term contract with KJZZ. 

“It’s truly a partnership,” he said. 

Smith says the team has an opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before in league. 

“I think if we do something different here and focus on what is right,” he said. “And what we feel like the proper fan experience should be like. I’m long on the Utah fans. I’m bullish on the Utah fans. I think we have a chance to do something that’s different than any other city or state in the league.”

Noriega says it’s seems too good to be true.

“Yeah, I mean, we kind of went through a one-way door,” Smith said.

Smith goes on to say the production company that is being built is going to be a foundation of what the team does.

With the games on KJZZ, Smith says he hopes to make the game experience more personalized for every fan.

“And so what we are going to do is build a personalized experience for every individual in the state to watch the way they want to watch,” he said. “And try to grow beyond that.”

Streaming options

Smith says there will be streaming options through the team’s website

“It’ll likely be in conjunction with the streaming model of the NBA and the app,” he said.

He says there will be a subscription fee for the streaming service, which is a little different than KJZZ.

“It should be a good solution to a lot of people who want to look at that,” Smith said. “But we also have all the flexibility in the world to bundle different value with that.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. 


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Jazz owner explains decision to move games back to free TV