Dec 6, 2023 - Sports

Minnesota's sports teams could get easier to watch

Illustration of glowing tv with a basketball emerging

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Watching Minnesota's pro sports teams is likely to get easier β€” and cheaper β€” in the coming months.

Catch up fast: The Twins contract with Bally Sports parent company Diamond Sports Group, which is in bankruptcy, has ended. The Timberwolves' one is set to end after this season following a deal the NBA struck with Diamond to shorten contracts for 15 teams.

  • Both clubs are now working out how their games will be broadcast to fans beyond that, and they're hoping to expand access to more people.
  • The NHL had also been negotiating a split with Bally, but no announcements have been made. The Wild are preparing for that possibility.

Why it matters: Options to watch local sports in the Twin Cities have been dwindling because streaming services stopped carrying Bally Sports and its app has been unreliable.

  • A new era could mean free, over-the-air broadcasts or just more platforms to watch games.

The latest: New Twins TV play-by-play announcer Cory Provus told reporters last week that he was attracted to the switch from his radio job because of the Twins' plan to triple their TV audience.

  • That could mean the team and MLB distribute the games themselves, without blackouts local viewers typically hit for MLB TV.

Yes, but: The team's contract with Diamond Sports paid $55 million annually, and the front office has warned that a new deal likely won't come close to matching that. The team has signaled it will cut payroll next year as a result. That could mean not signing big free agents or trading away higher-priced veterans.

State of play: Minnesota fans should look to Arizona for an example of how things could shake out here.

  • After breaking from Bally, Diamondbacks baseball games are now carried on cable, satellite, and streaming services, or fans can watch them on the MLB app for $20 a month, with no local blackouts.
  • Suns basketball games are now broadcast over the air on local stations.

Between the lines: Both the Twins and Wolves have built fan excitement not seen in recent memory. The Twins won their first playoff series in 21 years and the Wolves have the NBA's best record.

  • While each team will likely lose some revenue, they have an opportunity to bring more fans into the fold.

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