There will not be a new TV rights partner for the New Orleans Pelicans.
On Thursday, the team announced a new rights agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans, its existing rightsholder.
New Orleans Pelicans, @BallySportsNO announce rights extension?https://t.co/cL7wYo0nzt
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) June 23, 2022
Per nola.com’s Christian Clark, it’s a five-year deal and will result in around 75 games broadcast each season.
It seems like the impending launch of Bally Sports+ in all of the Bally markets across the country (the service had a soft launch in the Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa Bay markets on Thursday) played a not insignificant role in the decision, as it was mentioned in the second paragraph of the team’s official statement.
“When we constructed this new agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans the main priority was distribution and the ability to deliver our games directly to our fans. With the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+, Bally Sports’ direct-to-consumer platform, any Pelicans fan will be able to have access to Bally Sports New Orleans in the team’s local territory. This partnership allows us to continue to deliver unique, compelling Pelicans content across multiple platforms with the highest production quality,” said Dennis Lauscha, President, New Orleans Pelicans. “We are still working every option with Bally Sports New Orleans to improve the accessibility, ancillary content and distribution of Pelicans programming to all of our fans across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.”
The pricing of Bally Sports+ in the soft launch markets is $19.99 per month and $189.99 per year, and while it’s assumed that will carry over when it launches in the rest of the markets, things can change.
If the Pelicans opted against a new deal with the company, their most realistic options seemed to either be limited to inking a deal with a streaming company (as we’ve seen with MLS teams for local games in the past) or launching a new RSN from the ground up (which is never easy, especially given the lack of live rights up for grabs in the market and the fact that the next NBA season starts in four months).
A quick glance at Twitter shows that Pelicans fans aren’t happy with this, but it really was the most feasible option for the team. The RSN needs the team, and the team needs the only RSN in town. And while fans (of all teams airing on Bally Sports RSNs) will complain about the ongoing national carriage disputes between Sinclair and carriers, there’s no guarantee that a new RSN would have been able to get deals done with all of the holdouts, let alone the companies that actually have deals done with Sinclair.