- Dec 4, 2009
The Pirates and Penguins may not be without a regional sports network in the coming years after all. It just might be a very different arrangement than fans are used to.
The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan citing a source close to MLB reported Tuesday that joining up with the Boston area’s New England Sports Network, or NESN, could be an option for the teams if and when Warner Bros. Discovery walks away from its AT&T SportsNet RSNs as it reportedly plans to.
The reason? Common ownership with the Penguins via Fenway Sports Group, which holds an 80% stake in the channel.
NESN is currently the exclusive home of FSG’s Boston Red Sox as well as the NHL’s Boston Bruins, which has separate ownership.
It makes sense, then, that the network would want to add the Penguins, in particular, if their TV rights became available. That would give the Penguins’ FSG management the ability to work with advertisers and cable systems directly rather than hand its rights to a third party like WBD.
The relationship wouldn’t be quite as direct for the Pirates, to say the least. In fact, they’d essentially be selling their TV rights to a competitor since FSG has a direct interest in the Red Sox.
The two teams rarely face each other, however, as members of separate leagues. And the Bruins seem to be doing just fine while selling their rights to the entity that owns the Penguins.
The big perk for the Pirates would be a port in the storm while more than a dozen other teams are grappling with the impending bankruptcy of Diamond Sports, which operates RSNs in many cities.
NESN, by contrast, is profitable and not going anywhere because of its ownership’s direct interest in MLB. So the Pirates could go back to relying on money from appearing on cable bundles continuing to roll into their coffers, at least until the cable bundle really begins to fall apart
If this means less Charlie Moore than I am soldThe most obvious solution would be for NESN to simply acquire the existing AT&T SportsNet operation and rebrand it. Some back-office jobs might disappear where there are redundancies with NESN. But the public-facing product could be pretty similar to what we fans are getting from AT&T SportsNet currently.