Baseball’s Houston Astros and the NBA’s Houston Rockets have acquired AT&T SportsNet Southwest from Warner Bros Discovery and will relaunch the channel Tuesday as the “Space City Home Network.”
The move completes the media conglomerate's exit from the regional sports networks (RSN) business, reluctantly foisted upon WBD when it, in turn, foisted the highly leveraged merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery upon all of us 18 months ago.
Last month, WBD sold AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh to Fenway Sports Group, owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Earlier, WBD announced the abandonment of AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, which had been the RSN home of the NBA's Utah Jazz and NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. (Both teams have announced local broadcast TV deals and new DTC streaming platforms.)
As for the rebranded Space City Home Network, the Rockets and Astros say little will change in terms of the channel's operations and positioning on the pay TV grid (it currently has distribution via Comcast, DirecTV and Fubo). General manager David Peart will remain in charge of the network.
No financial terms of the acquisition from WBD were disclosed.
“It’s not something that I would have bet on [in 2014],” Astros general counsel Giles Kibbe told the Houston Chronicle. “But as things started changing … it’s something we’ve had our eyes on. Owning our media rights and having the ability to control those rights is extremely important to both the Astros and Rockets.”
The Rockets and Astros will be looking to expand revenue through increased distribution, hoping to gain carriage via cable operators including Charter Communications and Altice, as well as virtual MVPD YouTube TV.
They're also looking at direct-to-consumer streaming.
“We are looking at the direct-to-consumer model,” Kibbe told the Chronicle. “It’s something that we are seeing in a few regional sports networks. It is going to take some work to make that happen. But it is something that we will look at and evaluate.”
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!