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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Teams Continuing To Capitalize On Crumbling RSNs

  • Owner of Red Sox, Liverpool, Penguins closes in on pact for Pittsburgh RSN
  • Agreement would build on ownership group's existing control of NESN
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sydney Crosby skates with puck down ice
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to Fenway Sports Group, another franchise is close to owning the rights to broadcast its own games.

The parent organization of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, Pittsburgh Penguins, and NESN is nearing a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports to acquire AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, the regional sports network that airs both the Penguins and MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but for the past six months, Warner Bros. Discovery has actively sought to exit the RSN business, one under significant stress — as highlighted by the ongoing bankruptcy of Bally Sports parent Diamond Sports Group.

“With the recent changes at AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, Warner Bros. Discovery, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and NESN have been working collaboratively to ensure that fans have access to their favorite teams this fall,” said a joint statement from the Penguins and two RSNs. “Discussions are progressing well, and we expect exciting news in the coming weeks.”

Other Team Markets In Flux

The Penguins begin their 2023-24 regular season on Oct. 10, so a series of announcements on the team’s local broadcast plans are expected before that date. It’s still unknown whether the Pirates will remain in the FSG-led structure at the RSN, but club owner Bob Nutting holds a good working relationship with John Henry and Tom Werner, his counterparts in Boston.

Warner Bros. Discovery also holds ownership stakes of RSNs in Seattle, Denver, and Houston. A deal is in development to sell the Houston network to the MLB’s Astros and NBA’s Rockets, while the greater likelihood in Denver is that AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain will just shutter. 

Meanwhile, MLB’s Mariners have majority-owned Root Sports Northwest for a decade.

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