Warner Bros. Discovery reached a deal to sell AT&T SportsNet Southwest to the Houston Astros and Rockets, as it continues to unwind its regional sports network businesses.
The Astros and Rockets will rename the channel to Space City Home Network or SCHN. The channel will air more than 220 live games a year, mostly from the Astros and Rockets. The first game to air on the newly renamed network will be the Rockets opener vs. Indiana on October 10, 2023.
The deal marks the further dismantling of the AT&T SportsNet regional sports network at a time when sports networks are struggling to survive, with Warner Bros. Discovery saying last month that it planned to shut all of the RSNs down by the end of the year. It also represents another example of local sports team taking more control over the destiny of their broadcasts, similar to the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Despite the rebranding, fans will be able to catch their teams on the same channels. The two teams will operate the channel as a joint venture.
“We are excited to partner with the Rockets, and launch the new home for Astros and Rockets coverage with Space City Home Network,” said Giles Kibbe, Astros senior vice president and general counsel. “Together with the Rockets we’ve worked hard to ensure that Space City Home Network will bring you the same Astros and Rockets sports coverage from the faces and voices you know and love. We look forward to this new chapter and remain committed to delivering great broadcasts for the best fans in baseball.”
“We’ve had a strong relationship with the talent and staff at AT&T SportsNet in broadcasting Rockets games over the years and are excited to have that live on as Space City Home Network,” said Rockets President of business operations Gretchen Sheirr. “We’ve worked alongside the Astros and network personnel to ensure this will be a smooth changeover for our fans and look forward to the positive impact this collaboration and local ownership will have on our broadcast.”
Warner Bros. Discovery has been keen to unload the AT&T SportsNet assets ever since it gained them after purchasing the Warner Bros. business from AT&T.
“We appreciate the collaboration from the Astros and Rockets 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. “We wish the Astros and Rockets much success as they assume ownership of the network.”
Here is what happened to the other AT&T SportsNet RSNs:
AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Earlier this month, news broke that AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain would shut down on October 6. This leaves Rockies fans without a way to watch their team’s games. The Denver Post said potential options for production and distribution included the MLB itself or Stan Kroenke’s Altitude TV, which is already home to Denver’s Nuggets, Avalanche and Mammoth teams.
Neither MLB or Altitude TV are perfect options. If the Rockies choose Altitude TV, Comcast customers would be shut out due to the conflict between the cable distributor and Altitude. With MLB, viewers could stream digitally with MLB.TV or through specific cable channels, but both avenues would require a fee.
NBA Utah Jazz will offer in-market streaming of their games this fall through a partnership with internet video company Kiswe. The deal means all non-nationally televised Jazz games will air on a local TV station – KJZZ, channel 14 – which will become “The Home of the Utah Jazz.” Prices and supported devices have yet to be announced.
The Vegas Golden Knights, meanwhile, landed a deal with ViewLift Streaming, and announced pricing earlier this week. The multi-year partnership will allow ViewLift to stream all locally broadcast games on major devices in the Golden Knights’ region.
There’s no word on what will happen to the Aces.
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
Earlier this month, Warner Bros. Discovery reached a deal to sell AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh to Fenway Sports Group, the organization that owns the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Our top priority is to continue to deliver Penguins hockey, creative content tailored to our fans, and other exciting sports coverage of the region,” Kevin Acklin, Penguins President of Business Operations, said in a statement. “SportsNet Pittsburgh also allows us to deliver our own quality production in collaboration with the expertise of NESN.”
It’s unclear what happens with the Pirates, which is owned by Robert Nutting and isn’t affiliated with Fenway.
Root SportsNet Northwest
Unlike the other three RSNs, Warner Bros Discovery is only a minority shareholder in Root SportsNet Northwest. AT&T SportsNet President Patrick Crumb told the Seattle Times in February that nothing changes with Root.
Shelby Brown contributed to this story.