Scripps Sports has signed its first rights deal, four months after its launch. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not a local deal with a team whose RSN has imploded, but instead, a hybrid national and regional deal with an entire league.
The league is the WNBA, and the multi-year deal will bring 15 Friday night games to the Scripps-owned ION this season. All games will not air nationally, with some airing only on a regional basis.
Here’s more from the Sports Business Journal.
The deal has ION carrying WNBA games on 15 Friday nights during the regular season, from May 26-Sept. 8. Branded as the “WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION,” the broadcaster will use two Friday night windows, with some games made available nationally and others on a regional basis. The broadcaster plans to promote these games via its local stations, national networks, Scripps News and digital multicast network Bounce.
Back in December when I wrote up the launch of Scripps Sports, I mused that the company would look to “more affordable, higher ceiling properties,” and the WNBA certainly fits that bill. I also mentioned the NWSL as a good fit, which remains a possibility.
Scripps picking up local rights for teams isn’t out of the picture. SBJ reports that the company “also is having conversations with several teams for their local rights,” and the eventual closure of the AT&T SportsNet RSNs could provide an opportunity for Scripps to fill the void. The Utah Jazz, who finally parted ways with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain after the season, seem like an ideal choice for a local fit on Scripps.
ESPN is the WNBA’s primary media partner, and will air 25 regular season games nationally across ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 this season.