Consumers today want more choice and value for the news, entertainment, and sports they’re willing to pay to receive in their homes. And DIRECTV aims to provide it.
As direct-to-consumer streaming options increase, the more traditional business model for delivering regional sports continues to evolve rapidly to meet these new dynamics. Every provider is meeting this challenge at the same time, creating new strategies and opportunities for their customers. This is occurring right now, in real-time, and while some have chosen to abandon regional sports altogether, as a longtime sports leader, DIRECTV intends to remain very active in local sports. As some local franchises have begun opting out of offering their local games in partnership with a regional sports network, we’re actively monitoring all these changes and collaborating with individual teams, their leagues, and new rightsholders to deliver local sports to fans who may want them.
Nineteen Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks owned and operated by Diamond Sports Group are attempting to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and some, like Bally Sports Arizona, are shutting down, leaving the NBA Suns and NHL Coyotes to depart for new arrangements with local broadcast stations owned by Gray Television and E.W. Scripps, respectively. Last summer, the MLB Arizona Diamondbacks jumped to a new MLB owned-and-operated channel that DIRECTV immediately made available to keep fans connected. A similar situation occurred when the San Diego Padres joined another MLB owned-and-operated channel DIRECTV offers to customers in that region.
Another four regional sports networks previously operated by AT&T but then sold to Warner Bros. Discovery have either transitioned to new ownership (often the teams themselves) or closed their doors. AT&T SportsNet Southwest, based in Houston, has become Space City Home Network, owned-and-operated by the NBA Rockets and MLB Astros. AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, prior home of the NHL Penguins and MLB Pirates, is now operated by Boston-based Fenway Sports Group in conjunction with NESN under the new Sportsnet Pittsburgh brand. AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain West, based in Denver, has seen its NHL champion Golden Knights and NBA Utah Jazz enter into new agreements with local broadcast stations owned by E.W. Scripps and Sinclair Broadcast Group, respectively. That regional sports network intends to close at the end of the year and is no longer available on DIRECTV services
Other teams may follow, and sometimes teams’ decisions on new local media partners have regrettably led to pockets of fans, typically those living at the far reaches of the league-mandated team territories, unable to enjoy the same access as before. And because they are still considered “in-market” based on their league-mandated team territories, these fans cannot obtain their local games via out-of-market subscriptions to NHL Center Ice or NBA League Pass either.
As this industry-wide transition occurs, we remain committed to fostering strong business relationships that yield long-term mutual benefits for teams, leagues, their host communities, and especially the fans who support them. To see where your team is now available, including their DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, or U-verse channel positions, please visit these sites:
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are RSNs changing?
A handful of regional sports networks have recently shut down or changed owners, and nearly 20 others are struggling financially. That’s led a few NHL (3), NBA (3), and MLB (2) teams to recently move their local TV rights to new networks or local broadcast stations available to different regions than before. We’re working with these teams, leagues, and new rightsholders to make games available to fans who may want them as this transition occurs.
How do I find any new channel potentially carrying my team’s games?
At least for now, this only affects a few teams: the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Pittsburgh Penguins and Arizona Coyotes; NBA’s Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets; and MLB’s San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, which moved to new league-operated channels that DIRECTV immediately made available earlier this year. There are several ways to keep track of a favorite team, and find any new channels offering games: (1) Using the search function in the on-screen guide. (2) Customers with Gemini receivers can set their team as a “favorite” and the guide will list potential ways to watch upcoming games. (3) Go to Sports.directv.com and enter your zip code for current options.
Why do some customers still have access, but not others?
Each league mandates “home” territories for its local franchises to help preserve each one’s local fan base. The teams then enter into rights agreements with various networks, local broadcast stations, or streaming partners to offer their games to fans who live inside that specific geographic region. A stand-alone channel, like an RSN or league-operated service, will typically cover a territory determined by the league, Within the territory fans with eligible service and programming can watch the local franchise. When teams opt for local broadcast coverage, the patchwork of signals may not reach some fans who typically live on the outskirts of that league-mandated territory. Most teams have created new streaming services to try to accommodate any displaced fans.
Could this same thing happen with other RSNs?
The several Bally Sports networks owned by Diamond Sports Group are attempting to reorganize and exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but if they were to fail to make local rights fee payments to any of the 11 NHL and 15 NBA franchises they currently provide, those teams could eventually move to other alternatives, including new league-owned channels like MLB has already launched on DIRECTV. Despite its financial difficulties, DSG recently renewed local rights agreements with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning. As a longtime sports leader, DIRECTV intends to remain very active in local sports. We’re actively working with individual teams, their leagues, and new rightsholders to deliver local sports to fans that may want them.