AT&T SportsNet and Root Sports Removed From Dish Network

A Dish technician standing outside a company van.
(Image credit: Dish)

Dish Network said that AT&T SportsNet and Root Sports regional sports networks were removed from the Dish Network satellite TV service Thursday.

Dish customers can no longer watch AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, AT&T SportsNet PIttsburgh and Root Sports Northwest.

Dish previously stopped carrying other regional sports networks, including the Bally Sports networks owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Another end-of-the-month dispute has blacked out MSG Networks to Comcast subscribers in New Jersey and Connecticut.

“The current RSN model is fundamentally broken,” said Brian Neylon, group president, Dish. “This model requires nearly all customers to pay for RSNs when only a small percentage of customers actually watch them.”

Dish claimed the regional sports networks are demanding that all customers pay for the networks, whether they watch or not.

“Our proposal to offer sports fans access to RSNs is simple, and provides choice and value to all of our customers,” added Neylon. “It would allow Dish TV customers to choose to subscribe to the RSN channels they want — such as the regional AT&T SportsNet and Root Sports networks — on an a la carte basis, similar to premium subscription channels. With this updated RSN model, no customer would be forced to pay for content they don’t watch, and the RSNs would determine the price customers would pay for their channels.”

AT&T, which recently spun off Dish competitor DirecTV, noted that dropping sports networks has been a pattern for Dish and that AT&T SportsNet and Root Sports were among the last RSNs on Dish.

“We are not surprised Dish Network has chosen to deprive their customers of our regional sports networks” said Patrick Crumb, president of AT&T Sports Networks. 

“As each of the nation’s regional sports networks’ agreements with Dish have come up for renewal over the last several years, we have witnessed them remove each RSN from their channel lineup,” Crumb said. “It is unfortunate that Dish has decided to abandon local MLB, NBA and NHL games, but the vast majority of Dish subscribers will have multiple alternative options for TV and streaming providers that carry our networks and we expect that many will switch from DISH to those providers that value premium local sports content.”

AT&T said it is trying to keep the networks on Dish.

“For all three networks we proposed commonly accepted, marketplace terms to continue our relationship, which terms Dish itself has accepted previously, but Dish chose instead to drop our networks, forcing its customers to sacrifice access to their favorite regional sports teams,” said Nina Kinch, VP of affiliate relations and business affairs. “The terms proposed by Dish were not acceptable, and in fact have not been accepted by any RSN in the country.”

AT&T notes that the sports nets are available via cable and DirecTV. AT&T is also making the AT&T SportsNet’s available via DirecTV Stream.  Root Sports and AT&T Pittsburgh are available via fuboTV

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.