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Monday, August 28, 2023

Sports Media: WBD Sports closer to exit from nearly all of its RSN business

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports is a little more than a month away from unwinding almost all of its regional sports network business.

When the current baseball season ends, WBD Sports is set to sell its RSNs in Pittsburgh and Houston to some of the teams in those markets and all signs point to the shuttering of its Denver-based channel, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.

Soon after the Oct. 1 conclusion of the MLB season, WBD Sports’ only RSN asset will be a 29% stake in the Seattle-based Root Sports Northwest. The Seattle Mariners have been the majority owner of that RSN since 2013.

WBD Sports already has agreed to a deal to allow Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Pittsburgh Penguins, to take over AT&T SportNet Pittsburgh. Specific financial details about the deal are not known, but it is expected to close within the next several weeks.

Fenway Sports Group has a lot of experience in the RSN business, as it co-owns one of the country’s most successful regional sports networks in NESN. The deal to take over the RSN ensures that the Penguins will remain on linear television in the Pittsburgh market.

It’s likely that Fenway Sports will launch a direct-to-consumer service around the Penguins, especially considering that NESN launched one around the Red Sox last year. But nobody is prepared to offer specifics about how a Fenway Sports-owned RSN will look in Pittsburgh.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 28, 2023 at 12:24 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rsns

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   1. DL from MN Posted: August 28, 2023 at 03:26 PM (#6139796)
Hopefully this means streaming and cable available for everyone as they choose with no more blackouts.
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 28, 2023 at 03:53 PM (#6139801)
When the current baseball season ends, WBD Sports is set to sell its RSNs in Pittsburgh and Houston to some of the teams in those markets and all signs point to the shuttering of its Denver-based channel, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.

The only streaming option to watch the Rockies is AT&T SportsNet, and I don't know a single person or bar who subscribes to that. The team made an exclusivity deal with AT&T, so they're not on YouTubeTV or any other streaming service. Just AT&T. And since the Nuggets and Avalanche are on a different sports channel, hardly anyone in Colorado feels the need to subscribe to AT&T just to watch a terrible baseball team.

They're still carried on DirecTV, and probably some other outlets, but half the bars I go to in Colorado don't have the option to watch the Rockies at all. Getting out from under that deal can only be good for the team.
   3. DL from MN Posted: August 28, 2023 at 04:15 PM (#6139805)
Getting out from under that deal can only be good for the team.

I'm sure the Twins feel the same way about Bally's. The number of TVs they appear on has dropped.

I would love to see local over-the-air broadcasts again. There are enough digital alternate channels showing re-runs to make that a decent option.
   4. Buck Coats Posted: August 28, 2023 at 04:26 PM (#6139806)
In fact with all the local digital channels now I think it would make sense for like NESN or YES to buy one and broadcast over the air as well as on cable.
   5. Jay Seaver Posted: August 28, 2023 at 04:50 PM (#6139808)
I used to figure that would be the likely move for NESN as cord-cutting intensified - WSBK38 and WHDH7 are independents in an era where there's not a lot of syndicated originals or interest in watching censored/ad-interrupted/cut-for-time movies and could perhaps be had cheap - but I figure they'll spend a couple years trying to figure out if folks can be sold on a stand-alone streaming service at some price.

I wouldn't rule it out, though - I'm not sure how well the various ad-supported streamers like Tubi, FreeVee, etc. do, but I gather they're pretty healthy, so I wouldn't rule out something like NESN over-the-air bringing in more money than NESN360.

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