Last month, Warner Bros. Discovery said it would shut down all its AT&T SportsNet’s regional sports networks by the end of the year, but it seems like it could happen early.
The fate of the three RSNs (with Warner Bros. Discovery a minority stakeholder in a fourth) has been in the air with shifting ownership and priorities. Back in 2019, AT&T wanted to sell its RSNs to reduce its debt, but the networks wound up being sold with Time Warner to Warner Bros. Discovery, which formed via a merger last year.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s decision to shut down or sell comes at a time when more RSNs are looking for ways to enter the streaming service game. Several RSNs offer direct-to-consumer streaming options, but they average about $20 each.
The planned shutdown is expected to affect the NBA teams Utah Jazz, and Houston Rockets; MLB teams Pittsburgh Pirates, Colorado Rockies, and Houston Astro; NHL teams Pittsburgh Penguins and Las Vegas Golden Knights; and WNBA team Las Vegas Aces.
But there are a lot of moving parts and deals that may keep some of these networks alive. Here’s everything we know about this tangled situation.
AT&T SportsNet Southwest
AT&T SportsNet Southwest is set to rename itself the Space City Home Network, according to a report published on Sunday. The new network is set to launch in October and will air Rockets and Astro games.
The move to drop the AT&T SportsNet name suggests the Rockets and Astro may be taking over ownership of the RSN, although no official announcements have been made.
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, according to Vegas Hockey Now. 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.
As a result, there will be no changes to the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Mariners and Seattle Kraken still stuck in limbo.