The Oklahoma City Thunder fanbase has been frustrated, to say the least, about the team's current Television contract with Bally Sports. The Regional Sports Network has vanished from most TV carriers. It is not available on most streaming services, and makes life hard on Thunder fans wanting to check out this fun, young team.
This is a widespread NBA issue, with many teams relying on Bally Sports to broadcast their regional games; the Broadcast company has failed horrendously. Not only is the product not available in most TV packages, but even paying for their overpriced in-house streaming service rarely gets you the contests glitch-free.
While most in Oklahoma have only been able to access the Thunder through a 20-dollar-a-month package that is sparingly useful, the organization has heard the complaints. Not only is the plan for the franchise to depart from Bally Sports after this season, but even in the course of the 2023-24 campaign, the franchise has found a way to put a bandaid on a bullet hole.
OKC Thunder announced Friday Night hoops will be found on Free Over the Air cable locally.
This morning, Thunder fans woke up to a surprise! The Oklahoma City Thunder announced the team plans to broadcast their final eight Friday night games for free on over-the-air TV via Griffin Media Stations.
In a statement released by the franchise this morning, they said, "An agreement between the NBA and Bally Sports has created a unique and exciting opportunity for the Oklahoma City Thunder to broaden its TV reach for Friday games during the rest of the 2023-24 regular season. Tuesday, the Thunder and Oklahoma-owned Griffin Media announcedThunderFriday Nights, a partnership to televise the remaining eight Friday regular-season games for free, over the air with the use of an HD antenna, as well as on cable and satellite providers. The games will air on Griffin stations KSBI, Ch. 52 in Oklahoma City, and News On 6 Now, Ch. 6.3 in Tulsa. The games will also be carried on COX (Ch. 7 in OKC, Ch 53 in Tulsa), other cable outlets, and DirecTV and DISH in OKC (Ch. 52). The first of these eight broadcasts will be Friday, Jan. 26 when the Thunder plays at New Orleans."
In the same press release, the franchise detailed how to find this over-the-air channel: "Free over-the-air television access requires the use of an HD antenna, widely available for purchase. It is estimated those broadcasts in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and the other markets will be available for approximately 2 million homes across Oklahoma and the region."
However, a digital antenna might not be needed if your television package comes with the following local channels: KSBI-Ch. 52 Oklahoma City (Griffin Media), News On 6 NOW Ch 6.3 Tulsa (Griffin Media), KSWO-ME TV Ch. 7.3 Lawton/Wichita Falls (Gray Television), KSCW-CW Ch 33.1 Wichita, KS (Gray Television), or KOAM stations Joplin, MO/ Pittsburg, KS (Morgan Murphy Media).
These games will not be found on Bally Sports or the Bally Sports+ streaming service, rendering this method the only way to watch the Thunder locally. If you can view Thunder games through NBA League Pass in your arena, you will not be impacted.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will keep the same broadcasting crew for these Friday Night games, Play By Play voice Chris Fisher is flanked by Color Commentator Michael Cage, as well as sideline Reporters Nick Gallo and Paris Lawson. These are Thunder employees not tied in with Bally, so if and when the franchise jumps the sinking ship, the crew should remain in tact.
These games against the Pelicans will begin on January 26th in New Orleans. The full schedule of games offered for Free on over-the-air TV:
January 26th: @ New Orleans Pelicans
February 2nd: vs Charlotte Hornets
February 23rd: vs Washington Wizards
March 8th: vs Miami Heat
March 22nd: @ Toronto Raptors
March 29th: vs Phoenix Suns
April 5th: @ Indiana Pacers
April 12th: vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Oklahoma City Thunder have joined other teams making the jump to over-the-air free TV, such as the Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, and Utah Jazz. So far, so good, for those franchises with the NBA and Thunder, who have the infrastructure to pull this off.
This is a massive step for the Thunder to solve a problem that they understand and share empathy for. Honestly, it is the best they can do as a mid-season pivot under contract with Bally Sports. So, OKC Thunder fans should rejoice to getting eight games for free this season.