- Dec 4, 2009
It seems like hte RSN Bubble might be Close to bursting... this + the issues with Bally Sports.... Hopefully this is what is needed to kickstart league run streaming packages (and no blackouts)Warner Bros. Discovery has told teams that it plans to exit the regional sports network business entirely within the next several weeks.
The company, which operates three AT&T SportsNet-branded channels in Denver, Houston and Pittsburgh and has a minority stake in the Root Sports channel in Seattle, has told teams that they have until March 31 to reach an agreement to take their rights back. If the RSNs can’t reach deals with the teams, the channels eventually plan to move forward with a Chapter 7 liquidation filing.
In a statement provided to SBJ, WBD said, “AT&T SportsNet is not immune to the well-known challenges that the entire RSN industry is facing. We will continue to engage in private conversations with our partners as we seek to identify reasonable and constructive solutions.”
WBD sent letters to the leagues and teams this afternoon informing them of their plans to divest their interest in those four RSNs.
WBD has rights deals with 10 teams across those four networks: four MLB teams (Astros, Mariners, Pirates, Rockies), three NBA teams (Blazers, Jazz, Rockets) and three NHL teams (Kraken, Penguins, Golden Knights).
The moves come at a fraught time for WBD, which has been trying to get out of the RSN business for a while.
Over the past several months, league sources privately have praised WBD Sports’ RSN leadership, led by AT&T SportsNet President Patrick Crumb, for working with the teams to come up with a plan that would enable the company to get out of the RSN business.
In the letters, WBD said that it will allow the teams to use the same production staff and equipment to continue producing the games.
With WBD trying to extend its NBA package past 2024-25 -- as competitors like Amazon, Apple and NBC are emerging -- it's important for WBD to not ruffle feathers in the league office as it disentangles its interest in the RSNs.
Its RSNs hold the rights to three NBA teams -- the Blazers, Jazz and Rockets -- and it’s too early to determine how this move will affect them.