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Kraken TV moving to Amazon Prime and KING/KONG, John Forslund staying

Our long, regional nightmare is over.

The Seattle Kraken have parted ways with ROOT Sports and have signed a multi-year deal with Amazon Video and TEGNA, who owns the KING 5 and KONG channels. Here are the cliffs notes:

  • If you have Amazon Prime, congratulations! You get to stream Kraken games at no additional cost.
  • They will also be broadcast on KING 5/KONG. These channels are available over the air in Seattle, so you don’t need a cable package. You can get a TV antenna for $20-$30.
  • TEGNA also owns KGW in Portland and KREM in Spokane, which will also broadcast their games over the air in those markets.
  • This will cover about 70 of the 82 games. The other 12ish games will national TV broadcasts.
  • Out-of-market fans will still be able to access Kraken games via an ESPN+ subscription.

What does this mean for the viewers?

It means you get to rejoice. Do some joicing, then do it again. Go on — you’ve earned it.

The ROOT broadcast in itself was great, absolutely top-notch. A+ product. But the accessibility was a D-. ROOT had no cheap option. You either had to go with an expensive cable or dish package like Xfinity or DirecTV, or buy the very limited streaming package of Fubo TV. The price point for these options is all around $100 a month, and that of course doesn’t come with any other streaming services.

There was also no over-the-air option. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me “I would love to watch the Kraken, but I don’t have an affordable way to do so.”

But now? Amazon Prime is $14.99 a month and is something a lot of people already have. It’s no extra charge to get the Kraken games. You can watch Kraken games even if you don’t have a streaming service. I would guess the number of people with access to these games just increased tenfold. That might be a low estimate.

What about John Forslund and the other on-air talent?

JOHN FORSLUND IS STAYING. He, JT Brown, Eddie Olcyzk, Alison Lukan, and Nick Olczyk will still be doing Kraken broadcasts.

Hey Zaiem, ha ha you forgot to mention Piper Shaw. What an oversight! That…is an oversight, right?

I have bad news for you, rhetorical device! Piper is under contract with ROOT, who still does all the Seattle Mariners games. Per Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, they are exploring options with her. So it’s not a yes, but it’s not necessarily a no on Piper.

Presumably the on-air talent with ROOT like Angie Mentink, Tom Glasgow, and Ross Fletcher will stay with ROOT and we will see a different studio crew next season, but none of that has been confirmed.

Why did all this happen, anyway?

Regional sports networks (hereafter RSNs) like ROOT are not having a good time. Bally’s Sports RSN, which does 11 different teams in the NHL, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Warner Brothers Discovery announced in 2023 that they are selling off the RSNs they own, which included a partial stake in ROOT Sports. The Mariners have now taken full ownership of the channel, owning 100% of it.

The Kraken get out from the shaky finances of RSNs teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and instead sign a deal with Amazon, who has $86 billion in cash on hand. I’m not a business scientist, but that seems like the opposite of teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. If Amazon goes under, we probably have way bigger economic problems than a Kraken TV rights deal.

Climate Pledge Arena is named as part of a naming rights deal with Amazon. It could have been arena, but Jeff Bezos and friends wanted it to be called Climate Pledge Arena instead. Yes, I think it’s weird too. But like, in a charming way (insofar as one can find a decision made by a company with a $1.9 trillion market cap charming).

This is fantastic news for Kraken fans, present and future. The Coyotes (RIP) and Golden Knights went to this free model and their viewership exploded. It’s been real hard to get Kraken games, and now it’s about to get real easy.

That’s (much more accessible) Kraken hockey, baby!

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