Warner Bros. Discovery’s exit from the RSN business has thrown the future of the three AT&T SportsNet RSNs into question, but one of those RSNs may end up surviving.
Per the Sports Business Journal, the Houston Astros and Rockets are in negotiations to take over AT&T SportsNet Southwest, their cable home.
The move also is not expected to impact the Astros, whose games are on an AT&T SportsNet-branded channel in the Houston market. Sources say the Astros and Rockets are negotiating to take over that channel primarily because it still has around 10 years left in long-term affiliation deals with Comcast, DirecTV and U-Verse — deals that are considered the most profitable part of an RSN’s business.
AT&T SportsNet Southwest was born out of the ashes of CSN Houston, a disastrous RSN launched by the Astros, Rockets, and Comcast in 2012. CSN Houston declared bankruptcy in 2013, and was acquired by AT&T in 2014, after which it was rebranded as Root Sports Southwest. In 2017, the network was again rebranded as AT&T SportsNet Southwest, which is where we are today.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros’ and Rockets’ carriage deals with AT&T, Comcast, and DirecTV run through 2032, part of the reason they’re so interested in acquiring the RSN.
WBD’s exit from local sports will have a minimal effect in Seattle, where the Mariners own a majority stake in Root Sports Northwest. The picture is far cloudier with the Pittsburgh and Rocky mountain RSNs, the AT&T SportsNet homes of the Penguins, Pirates, Rockies, Jazz, and Golden Knights. Potential homes for those teams have yet to clearly emerge.