The future of Pirates and Penguins regional TV broadcasts: What we’re hearing

BRADENTON, Fla. — Pittsburgh sports activities followers shouldn’t fear about being unable to observe the Pirates’ Opening Day sport or any potential Penguins’ Stanley Cup playoff video games, despite the fact that cable broadcaster AT&T SportsNet’s guardian firm is reportedly quickly to exit the Regional Sports activities Community (RSN) enterprise.

Pirates chairman Bob Nutting informed The Athletic on Saturday that his membership’s March 30 season-opener towards the Cincinnati Reds might be broadcast within the Pittsburgh market.

“On Opening Day, you’re gonna be capable of activate the TV and watch the sport,” Nutting stated. “I’m undecided who’s going to personal the RSN, however the broadcast goes to come back on.”


The similar goes for Pirates video games scheduled for regional tv broadcasts in April and thereafter, Nutting indicated.

“I don’t see any probability we’re going to lose the printed,” Nutting stated. “I simply don’t suppose that’s life like. We now have been working for over a yr on contingency plans.”

As for the Penguins, their April video games and any potential opening-round Stanley Cup playoff video games usually are not in peril of being unavailable to viewers within the Pittsburgh market, a staff supply stated Saturday. The Penguins supply is accustomed to issues associated to the AT&T SportsNet scenario, however was granted anonymity by The Athletic as a result of they aren’t licensed to talk on the topic with out the staff’s permission.

The Wall Road Journal reported Friday that a number of MLB, NHL and NBA groups — together with the Pirates and Penguins — acquired letters from AT&T SportsNet president Patrick Crumb saying, “the enterprise won’t have enough money to pay the upcoming rights charges.” Chapter for AT&T SportsNet is on the desk, the WSJ reported.

Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. has informed groups whose broadcasts are on on three of its networks that it needs to exit the enterprise, per the Wall Road Journal.

Affected groups:

◽️NBA: Rockets and Jazz
◽️MLB: Pirates, Astros and Rockies
◽️NHL: Penguins

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 25, 2023

AT&T SportsNet is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. The Wall Road Journal reported Crumb’s letter recognized March 31 as a date to “attain a deal to switch possession of the community” to keep away from submitting for chapter 7 liquidation.

“It’s a vital problem for Pittsburgh,” Nutting stated. “It’s a big problem for baseball total. There’s no query that the entire system of supply of content material is altering.”

Crumb’s letter caught neither Pirates nor Penguins executives abruptly.

Nutting stated the Pirates have been in contact with Warner Bros. Discovery and AT&T SportsNet “for 18 months” and there was “nothing stunning about” the baseball staff receiving Crumb’s letter Friday.


The Pirates and Penguins have mentioned plans to both accomplice on a possible new native sports activities community or not less than work collectively to guarantee their respective video games discover a joint-home on one other native cable channel, a supply with every staff stated Saturday.

Moving into the multimedia sport wouldn’t be international for both the Pirates or Penguins.

Nutting, who’s the Pirates’ majority proprietor, comes from a newspaper household. The Penguins are owned by Fenway Sports activities Group (FSG), whose properties embrace the Boston Pink Sox and New England Sports activities Community (NESN), an RSN that regionally broadcasts telecasts of the Pink Sox and Boston Bruins.

Nutting and FSG founder John Henry have MLB ties, although Nutting stated Saturday it was “most likely not productive to speak about choices that we’d have talked about.”

Nutting stated the Pirates’ Opening Day broadcast could be produced by AT&T SportsNet staff. The similar could be true, not less than initially, for any future native broadcasts of Pirates and Penguins video games till a full-time resolution is set, the Pirates and Penguins sources stated.

Basically, the groups’ sources stated, apart from a possible channel change, the broadcasts of Pirates and Penguins video games could be status-quo behind the scenes and on-camera.

Nonetheless, no matter comes subsequent for the groups may take time and won’t come simple.

“I feel it’s gonna be a painful transition — perhaps this yr, perhaps subsequent yr; we’ll see the way it performs out,” Nutting stated. “I feel the top result’s going to be higher, it simply may (take) somewhat bit of ache to get there.”

MLB and the NHL have every issued statements that stated the respective leagues are working groups in affected markets to guarantee video games will stay televised. At a spring coaching press convention final week on the Toronto Blue Jays facility in Dunedin, Fla., MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated RSN breakups may velocity up the league’s purpose of eliminating blackouts.

“I hope we get to the purpose the place on the digital aspect, once you go to MLB.television, you should buy regardless of the heck you need,” Manfred stated. “You should buy the out-of-market package deal. You should buy the native video games, two units of native video games — no matter you need. That’s, to me, the definition of what’s going to be a worthwhile digital providing going ahead.”

Although RSNs are flailing, Pittsburgh stays a robust sports activities tv market as tracked by Nielsen Media Analysis. The Penguins have persistently ranked atop or close to the highest of regional hockey rankings since Sidney Crosby’s debut with the NHL staff in 2005. And the Pirates’ rankings have outpaced similar-sized markets for the final decade.

In line with Sports activities Enterprise Journal, the Pirates’ native media deal is price $60 million yearly. Every year, AT&T SportsNet broadcasts greater than 150 regular-season video games in addition to spring coaching video games.

(Picture: Charles LeClaire / USA TODAY Sports activities)

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button