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NBC Sports Regional Networks
NBC Sports Regional Networks
is the collective name for a group of regional sports networks in the United States that are primarily owned and operated by the NBCUniversal division of the cable television company Comcast. The networks were originally established as Comcast SportsNet (CSN), a unit of Comcast's cable television business, beginning with a network in Philadelphia which launched in 1997. Their operations were aligned with the national NBC Sports division following the 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast. NBC Sports Regional Networks' business and master control operations are based in New York City.

The group operates seven regional networks; Comcast also has a partial ownership interest in SportsNet New York, which is co-owned with Charter Communications and the New York Mets. Each of the networks carries regional broadcasts of sporting events from various professional, collegiate and high school sports teams (with broadcasts typically exclusive to each individual network, although some are shown on more than one network within a particular team's designated market area), along with regional and national sports discussion, documentary and analysis programs.

After their realignment with NBC Sports, the networks initially continued to operate primarily under the Comcast SportsNet name. Although Comcast originally considered dropping its name from the networks in favor of NBC Sports following the merger, they still operated under the CSN brand for at least more six years. The group's two networks in California were then re-branded under the NBC Sports brand in April 2017, while the remaining networks were renamed on October 2, 2017.

HistoryEdit

As Comcast SportsNet (1997–2017)Edit

OriginsEdit

The origins of Comcast SportsNet are traced to Comcast's March 19, 1996 purchase of a 66% interest in Spectacor and its primary assets – the Philadelphia Flyers, The Spectrum and the then-recently completed CoreStates Center – for $240 million and the assumption of a collective $170 million in debt; the new Comcast Spectacor (which appointed the company's previous majority owner, Edward M. Snider, as its chairman) also immediately purchased a 66% interest in the Philadelphia 76ers.[1][2]

Immediately after the purchase was announced, there was speculation that Comcast would let Spectacor's television contracts with two local premium services that had long been carrying their games – PRISM (which carried movies and specials, in addition to sports events) and the all-sports network SportsChannel Philadelphia (both owned by Rainbow Media) – run out and create a sports network of its own, buy the existing networks or reach a complex deal with Rainbow to have PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia retain the broadcast rights to the 76ers and Flyers.[3][4] Comcast immediately approached the Philadelphia Phillies – whose contract with PRISM and Sports Channel Philadelphia ended after the 1997 season – about entering into a broadcast deal, indicating it would launch an RSN.[1]

After short-lived discussions between Rainbow Media and Comcast about the latter possibly becoming a part-owner in PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia,[5] on April 25, 1996, Comcast Spectacor formally announced plans to create a new Philadelphia-centric basic cable channel, which would carry sports events from the Flyers (whose contract with PRISM and SportsChannel was set to end that fall and was extended by one year on October 4, 1996, the day before its season home opener, after strained contract negotiations) and the Phillies.[6][7] On July 21, 1997, Comcast acquired the local television rights to the Philadelphia 76ers, with the team opting out of its contract with PRISM and SportsChannel that was set to run until the 1999–2000 season.[8]

The launch of the new network, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, effectively shuttered PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia when it launched on October 1, 1997, with the network directly replacing the latter on Philadelphia area local cable systems.[9]

Expansion into other marketsEdit

CSN began to expand with a series of acquisitions and new establishments: on July 11, 2000, Comcast acquired a 75% majority interest in Washington/Baltimore-area regional sports network Home Team Sports and Minneapolis-based network Midwest Sports Channel from Viacom for approximately $150 million.[10][11] Minority owner News Corporation, which wanted to acquire full ownership of both networks to make them part of its Fox Sports Net group, sued Comcast and Viacom on July 21 in an attempt to block the sale.

On September 7, 2000, as part of a settlement between the two companies, Comcast traded its equity interest in Midwest Sports Channel to News Corporation in exchange for sole ownership of Home Team Sports. HTS was later relaunched as Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic on April 4, 2001.[12][13]

On October 1, 2004, Comcast SportsNet Chicago was launched to replace FSN Chicago, as the local teams wanted to have editorial control over their broadcasts. Also in October 2004, Comcast SportsNet West was launched conjunction with Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Sacramento Kings. The channel was renamed Comcast SportsNet California in 2008.

On April 30, 2007, Cablevision Systems Corporation sold its 50% ownership interests in FSN Bay Area and FSN New England to Comcast for $570 million (the San Francisco Giants were added as a partner in FSN Bay Area, when the team acquired a 30% stake in the network on December 10);[14][15][16] subsequently, FSN New England rebranded as Comcast SportsNet New England in July 2007,[16] while FSN Bay Area was rebranded as Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on March 31 of that year.

Integration with NBC Sports Edit

As the result of the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast in February 2011, the operations of CSN, along with sister national sports networks Versus and Golf Channel, were integrated into the NBC Sports division. Plans called for the Comcast SportsNet outlets to take on the division's new "look and feel", which would be introduced in January 2013 alongside the then-upcoming re-launch of Versus as NBC Sports Network, although plans to drop the CSN name in favor of the NBC Sports brand were later shelved.[17]

In April 2012, NBC Owned Television Stations took over responsibilities of selling national advertising on behalf of four CSN networks (New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, and Philadelphia). For "unwired sales", the Group will be continue to be represented by Home Team Sports. The arrangement is an extension of one that it had established with New England Cable News in 2011.[18]

In early 2012, Comcast signed a contract worth $1 billion with the Houston Astros and Houston Rockets, which formed a new joint venture in which the two teams would own a 77.307% ownership interest in a new Houston-based sports network (with Comcast holding the remaining 22.693% interest); Comcast SportsNet Houston launched on October 1, 2012, assuming the rights to the Rockets and Astros from Fox Sports Houston,[19] which shut down three days later.[20] After filing an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition for the network on September 27, 2013, to "resolve structural issues affecting CSN Houston's partnership,"[21] DirecTV Sports Networks and AT&T acquired Comcast SportsNet Houston on August 6, 2014 as part of a reorganization plan (with DirecTV as majority owner at 60%).[22] The network was then integrated into DirecTV-operated Root Sports group, which relaunched it as Root Sports Southwest on November 14, 2014.[23]


In markets that didn't have an affiliate of that group, Comcast SportsNet also carried national programming distributed by competing regional sports network chain FSN (which included various college sports and UEFA Champions League soccer), a relationship that traced back to the launch of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia (which took over the FSN programming rights from SportsChannel Philadelphia).[24] CSN quietly dropped all FSN-supplied programming on August 1, 2012, after failing to reach an agreement to continue carrying FSN's nationally distributed programs.[25]

On March 22, 2017, the division announced that it would rebrand CSN Bay Area and CSN California to NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California on April 2, 2017, coinciding with the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball season. Division president David Preschlack stated that the re-branding was meant to "better associate the prestigious NBC Sports legacy with the strength of our Comcast Sports Networks' local sports coverage in Northern California."[26] On August 22, 2017, it was announced that the other networks, besides SNY, would migrate to the NBC Sports name. In some regions, the name of the network was narrowed, with CSN Mid-Atlantic renamed "NBC Sports Washington", and CSN New England renamed "NBC Sports Boston". In addition, The Comcast Network channels were also rebranded, with TCN Mid-Atlantic becoming NBC Sports Washington Plus, and TCN Philadelphia becoming NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus.[27] The rebranding took effect on October 2, 2017, coinciding with the start of the 2017–18 NHL and NBA seasons.[28][29]

ChannelsEdit

Owned-and-operated outletsEdit

Channel Region served
SportsNets
NBC Sports Bay Area San Francisco Bay Area
Northern and central California
parts of Southern Oregon
northwestern Nevada (including the Lake TahoeRenoCarson City region)
NBC Sports Boston Massachusetts
eastern and central Connecticut (except Fairfield County)
Vermont
Maine
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
NBC Sports California San Francisco Bay Area
Northern and central California
parts of Oregon
parts of Nevada
NBC Sports Chicago Chicago metropolitan area
northern and central Illinois, Indiana (except areas near Cincinnati, Evansville and Louisville), Iowa, non-Milwaukee market areas of southern Wisconsin
NBC Sports Northwest Washington
Oregon
Alaska
NBC Sports Philadelphia Philadelphia metropolitan area
eastern Pennsylvania
southern and central New Jersey
Delaware
NBC Sports Washington Maryland
Virginia
Washington, D.C.
southern Pennsylvania
eastern West Virginia
southern Delaware
Hampton Roads
Outer Banks
Other networks
SportsNet New York (SNY) New York metropolitan area
New York state
Connecticut
northern and central New Jersey
northeastern Pennsylvania
NBC Sports Washington + & NBC Sports Philadelphia + Mid-Atlantic states
southern Pennsylvania

Former networksEdit

Channel Region served
Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina
Comcast SportsNet Houston Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico
Comcast Sports Southwest Houston area
MountainWest Sports Network (The Mtn.) National (based in Denver, Colorado)

Related servicesEdit

High definitionEdit

Each regional channel (and in some cases, their alternate feed) has its own separate high-definition feed, with their own set schedules of programming – including live sports events as well as locally produced and NBC Sports-distributed national programs and live studio shows – available in HD. NBC Sports Northwest currently does not maintain a high-definition simulcast in the Seattle market.

Overflow feedsEdit

Most NBC Sports Regional Networks maintain alternate (or overflow) feeds under the Plus brand (with the network's regional name suffixed preceding the "Plus" title) for the broadcast of two or more events involving teams the respective network holds the broadcast rights to carry. Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia maintained a different arrangement, using sister channel The Comcast Network to serve as a de facto overflow network in the event that two local games were scheduled to air simultaneously on CSN Philadelphia.

National programsEdit

Programming strategyEdit

Each of the NBC Sports regional network outlets have acquired the play-by-play broadcast rights to major sports teams in their regional market (exempting NFL regular season or playoff games, since the league's contracts require all games to be aired on broadcast television in each participating team's local markets). In addition to local play-by-play coverage, the NBC Sports networks also produce and broadcast pre-game and post-game shows, and broadcasts weekly "magazine" shows centered on the teams that maintain rights with the individual network. In some markets, NBC Sports competes directly with other regional sports networks for the broadcast rights to team-specific programming.

National sports programmingEdit

Live national play-by-playEdit

Other sportsEdit

See alsoEdit

References and footnotesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Michael Sokolove. "Comcast Buying 76ers And Flyers Phils Also May Get Involved With Firm", March 20, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  2. Edward Moran. "Picture Starts To Clear Sports Deal Gets Comcast's Foot In Door For New Channel", December 4, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  3. Sam Donnellon. "Prism, Sportschannel On Way Out?", March 20, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  4. Michael L. Rozansky. "Comcast Deal Isn't The End Of Prism It Could Benefit Both Firms To Leave The TV Rights As They Are", March 24, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  5. "COMCAST WELCOME AS AN INVESTOR IN PHILADELPHIA RSNS", March 28, 1996. Retrieved on April 13, 2015. 
  6. Edward Moran. "Comcast Puts Prism On Ropes Phils Agree To Join Flyers, Sixers In Fledgling All-sports Cable Channel", April 26, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  7. Bill Fleischman. "Flyers And Prism Ink Last-minute TV Deal", October 5, 1996. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  8. Bill Fleischman. "New Sportsnet Reels In Sixers", July 22, 1997. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  9. Michael L. Rozansky (July 27, 1997). Local TV Sports Fans To See A Change, In Cost Sportschannel And Prism Are Going, Going. . . . A New Basic Cable Channel Takes Over. Retrieved on September 5, 2012.
  10. Mark Guidera. "Comcast to buy HTS sports channel", July 12, 2000. 
  11. Eric Fisher. "Purchase of HTS Continues Comcast's Foray into Area Sports", July 12, 2000. Retrieved on April 9, 2015. 
  12. Kristine Henry. "Nevins leaves PR post for presidency of HTS", March 3, 2001. 
  13. "HTS now Comcast SportsNet, adding sports news coverage", April 4, 2001. 
  14. Cynthia Littleton (April 30, 2007). Comcast sports new cable networks. Retrieved on April 18, 2015.
  15. Tom FitzGerald. "Same channel, but new name for local telecasts / Comcast SportsNet BA replaces FSNBA", August 20, 2010. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 John Dempsey (December 10, 2007). SF Giants take stake in FSN. Retrieved on April 18, 2015.
  17. John Ourand (August 1, 2011). SBJ: Exit Versus, enter the NBC Sports Network. Retrieved on August 2, 2011.
  18. Lindsay Rubino. "NBC Owned Stations, Comcast Sports Group Strike Ad Sales Partnership", April 16, 2012. Retrieved on August 21, 2012. 
  19. David Barron. "Comcast SportsNet Houston plans October launch", March 7, 2012. 
  20. David Barron. "Fox Sports Houston signs off with familiar face", October 2, 2012. 
  21. David Barron. "CSN Houston bankruptcy filing surprises Astros", September 27, 2013. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  22. David Barron. "AT&T, DirecTV to take over Comcast SportsNet Houston", August 6, 2014. Retrieved on August 7, 2014. 
  23. David Barron. "Root Sports Houston to make Rockets debut on Monday", November 14, 2014. 
  24. "COMCAST SPORTSNET LAUNCHES OCTOBER 1, LANDS 76ERS' RIGHTS", July 22, 1997. Retrieved on April 13, 2015. 
  25. John Ourand. "NBC Sports Group Drops FSN Programming From Comcast RSNs", August 14, 2012. Retrieved on April 18, 2015. 
  26. CSN Bay Area, CSN California To Be Rebranded Under ‘NBC Sports’ Moniker. Retrieved on 22 March 2017.
  27. CSN Mid-Atlantic is rebranding as NBC Sports Washington.
  28. CSN Philadelphia brand deep-sixed, network name officially changes to NBC
  29. NBCSCH doing Bulls, Blackhawks pregame and postgame shows even for games it doesn't carry

External linksEdit

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