The Denver-based AT&T (NYSE: T ) SportsNet Rocky Mountain, which broadcasts Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies, is reportedly preparing to cease operations. The regional sports network (RSN) has informed its employees that it will be "shutting down," with the last day of work for full-time employees slated for October 6, according to sources close to the situation on Wednesday.
The network is expected to continue running until at least the end of the year, leaving the future of local Rockies broadcasts in question. Among the potential options are MLB or Stan Kroenke’s Altitude TV taking over production and distribution of local broadcasts. However, the Rockies have not yet indicated whether they will pick up the broadcasts themselves. This leaves AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain’s on-air talent, including Drew Goodman, Jeff Huson, Ryan Spilborghs, Cory Sullivan and Jenny Cavnar, in a state of uncertainty as their futures are also in limbo despite being independent contractors.
The closure of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain is part of a larger trend affecting RSNs. Network owner Warner Bros. Discovery (NASDAQ: WBD ) Sports has been looking to exit the RSN business and has already sold what will become SportsNet Pittsburgh. The company is also potentially close to a similar deal in Houston for AT&T SportsNet Southwest.
The Rockies now face a decision about their broadcast strategy for 2024 and beyond. They could align with MLB to produce and distribute games, similar to the model currently used in Arizona and San Diego. Alternatively, they could sign with Stan Kroenke-owned Altitude TV, which already airs Denver Nuggets (NBA), Colorado Avalanche (NHL), and Colorado Mammoth (NLL) games. However, this option could present distribution challenges as Altitude has been unavailable on Denver-area Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA ) systems since 2019 due to an ongoing carriage dispute.
This situation adds another layer to existing industry issues such as the bankruptcy drama surrounding Bally Sports and parent company Diamond Sports Group.
In related news, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports found some closure in Pittsburgh with its expected sale of that regional network to Fenway Sports Group (FSG). FSG's NESN will manage the daily operations of SportsNet Pittsburgh, with the acquisition and rebranding effective from October 2. FSG is the parent company of NHL's Penguins, MLB's Boston Red Sox, and Premier League's Liverpool among other assets.
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