Earlier this month, Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed it planned to shut down all of its regional sports networks or RSNs. It has been known for some time now that they have been in talks to sell a few of them, and now, it has reached a deal to sell AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh to the Fenway Sports Group. This is the same ownership group that owns the Pittsburgh Penguins. The channel will now be rebranded to SportsNet Pittsburgh.
“Our top priority is to continue to deliver Penguins hockey, creative content tailored to our fans, and other exciting sports coverage of the region,” said Acklin. “SportsNet Pittsburgh also allows us to deliver our own quality production in collaboration with the expertise of NESN.”
“We appreciate the collaboration from the Penguins and Fenway Sports Group as we reach an agreement that is in the best interest of all parties, including the fans we all serve,” said Patrick Crumb, President, Regional Sports Networks, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. “I’d especially like to thank our Pittsburgh General Manager Shawn McClintock for his leadership, along with all of our colleagues who have worked passionately for years to showcase Penguins hockey. We wish the Penguins and Fenway Sports Group much success as they assume ownership of the newly named SportsNet Pittsburgh.”
We still don’t know the fate of AT&T SportsNet Southwest, as talks are reportedly still underway with the Astros and Rockets to sell the channel. What we do know is that AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain will shut down, according to reports. The Pittsburgh deal will reportedly close in the next few weeks.
Warner Bros. Discovery says they expect all RSNs to be sold or shut down but didn’t list which ones would be sold and which ones would be shut down.
This news will affect the Pittsburg Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, Vegas Golden Knights, Utah Jazz, Las Vegas Aces, Houston Rockets, Houston Astros, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Mariners, and Seattle Kraken.
Some of these teams, including the Utah Jazz and Vegas Golden Knights, have already reached new deals to air for free on OTA TV in their markets.
Back in July 2019, it was reported that AT&T was looking to sell its regional sports networks AT&T SportsNet. It was unable to do so and the networks ended up being sold with Time Warner to the newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery.
Now it seems that Warner Bros. Discovery has decided that these networks are not profitable and it would be best to just shut them down instead of trying to sell them again or find ways to make them profitable.
This move comes as a growing number of RSNs are looking for ways to reach new markets with streaming services. It also comes as Bally Sports is in the middle of bankruptcy that has seen several teams leave for new networks.
For cord cutters, RSNs have been vanishing recently on DIRECTV STREAM and Fubo offers RSNs to cord cutters. Several RSNs now offer a direct-to-consumer streaming option, but they are not cheap, averaging about $20 each.
The way people are watching sports is changing, and it seems AT&T SportsNets being shut down is one more sign of how big that change has been.