While 11 MLB teams are still working through open questions surrounding their local media rights with Diamond Sports Group’s ongoing bankruptcy, and the effects of that on player payroll, the Pittsburgh Pirates have found critical clarity and much-needed revenue.
The small-market club has completed a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins to become part-owner of SportsNet Pittsburgh, and the Pirates will continue to be shown on the regional sports network.
The agreement was always a logical outcome, but had faced some uncertainty. SportsNet Pittsburgh has gone through its own transition, having been acquired earlier this year by the Penguins’ parent, Fenway Sports Group, and the expiration of the Pirates’ prior rights deal with the end of the 2023 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact, which takes effect Jan. 1, is described as a multiyear deal, and FSG’s New England Sports Network will continue to manage daily operations of SportsNet Pittsburgh. The RSN will again have a year-round portfolio of major pro teams with the Pirates and Penguins.
“From the outset of this process, the most important thing to us was to ensure that our fans have the same level of access to Pirates game telecasts and the same high-quality production that they enjoy today,” said Pirates president Travis Williams. “This agreement accomplishes that.”
Had this deal not been completed, the Pirates were candidates to have their local games produced and distributed by MLB.
Aiding the agreement was an existing relationship between FSG principal owner John Henry and Pirates owner Bob Nutting. The new pact does create a unique situation in which the parent organization of the Boston Red Sox will be overseeing the local TV deal of another MLB club. The league, however, did not see this as a conflict of interest.