Y’know, when I got this degree in Comms I didn’t think a major part of it would be explaining how the business of Sports on TV is crumbling and congealing into something new, but here we are.
The Sports Business Journal reported late in the day that Warner Bros-Discovery has announced that it would like to get out of Regional Sports Broadcasting market, which directly impacts markets like Pittsburgh and Denver, as well as the ROOT Sports family, as they have a minority stake in the company. This is coming hot off the heels of Bally Sports probably going under and the continued existence of RSNs being a continued concept of concern for the industry now that cord-cutting is accelerating faster and faster.
As to whether or not this will actually harm the Kraken?…Maybe?
See, ROOT was allowed to keep the name ROOT Sports because the Mariners bought and currently own majority stake in the channel, so they’re only nominally part of Warner’s network to begin with. Warner-Discovery’s rapid cost-cutting and the Wall Street Journal’s copy of their correspondence to AT&T Sports Networks seems to indicate they’re planning on being extremely generous about the whole thing; willing to give over production staff, studios, and all rights related stuff to relevant teams for little to no money exchanged. The Kraken have one of the best broadcast teams on the planet right now, and they’re really proud of that. I find it extremely difficult to believe that they would be so foolish as to leave them high and dry for anything like that.
If the Kraken do end up with minority control of the station, I imagine the only real change they’ll experience is the same thing they ran into during the spring of last year where games went to Root Sports Plus in the springtime so they wouldn’t conflict with the M’s spring ball. Of course, this may all end up being moot, as the NHL may decide whole cloth to drop all of their live content on a single platform and have regional announce teams instead.
This is a developing story like most of the mud the RSN networks are currently being dragged through, so we’ll keep you posted on how this ends up if it does end with the Kraken making a major decision on it.