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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Warner Bros. Discovery Plans Regional Sports Networks Exit

  • Warner Bros. Discovery is winding down its ownership of its regional sports networks.
  • The company plans to be fully out by the end of the year.
Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Bligh Madris (66) is interviewed by AT&T Sportsnet reporter Robbie Inmickowski (right) after making his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. The Pirates won 12-1.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Warner Bros. Discovery is working to gracefully exit the regional sports business.

The media giant is in negotiations with teams and leagues to pass off those networks, a source familiar with the matter told Front Office Sports. WBD owns and operates three RSNs and holds a 30% stake in a fourth, Root Sports, through AT&T Sportsnet.

WBD plans to be fully RSN-free by the 2023-24 NBA and NHL seasons and 2024 MLB season. It could even transition out of MLB broadcasts during this season if it can limit service disruption for viewers.

The company is in different stages of discussions with teams and may end up with different outcomes. Its deal with the Utah Jazz, for instance, expires at the end of this season, so there is relatively little to discuss.

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Talks with the Houston Astros and Rockets are more complex: The teams are working to buy their local broadcaster from WBD, according to the Houston Chronicle.

AT&T Sportsnet’s RSNs also hold rights to MLB’s Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins. Root Sports’ broadcasts include the Seattle Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.

The company has not missed a rights payment to any of its teams.

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