By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I keep hearing about Bally’s troubles. But what about the AT&T regional sports channels? Aren’t they supposed to go out of business, too? There’s nothing written about those. What’s the latest? — Ben, Pittsburgh.
Ben, that’s a great question. Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns the three AT&T-named RSNs, told the leagues in February that it no longer wants to broadcast their games. (The three channels broadcast the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz, the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, and Colorado Rockies.)
Warner Bros. Discovery suggested that it wanted to jettison the RSN business as early as the end of March, according to multiple news reports, but there has been little public discussion of its situation in the last few weeks due largely to the bankruptcy filing by Diamond Sports, the owner of the 19 Bally Sports RSNs.
So does Warner Bros. Discovery still want out? Or has it reconsidered?
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It would appear that WBD is taking the quiet (and less confrontational) approach to entangle itself from the escalating RSN crisis. The Houston Chronicle reported a week ago that the company is negotiating with the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets for the teams to take back the broadcast rights. (The AT&T RSNs have continued game broadcasts since the notification letter to the leagues.)
The Chronicle writes:
“The network (AT&T Sports Southwest) will remain the host of Astros games for at least a majority of the 2023 season, per a source familiar with the negotiations. A deal on a network transfer from Warner Bros. Discovery to the teams is slated to occur sometime this spring or summer, though the process could extend past April and potentially May.”
It’s unclear if WBD is also negotiating with the Jazz, Penguins and Pirates and Rockies, but WBD has issued a statement saying it’s working with its “partners” for a solution. Meanwhile, the AT&T channels continue to broadcast all games.
The TV Answer Man will continue to monitor this situation and report back here if anything significant changes.
Until then, happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann