Regional sports network
In the United States and Canada, a regional sports network, or RSN, is a cable television channel that presents sports programming to a local market or geographical region. The most important programming on an RSN consists of live broadcasts of professional and college sporting events, as those games generate an overwhelming percentage of an RSN's advertising income. During the rest of the day, these channels show other sports and recreation programming. These channels are often the source content for out-of-market packages.
Regional sports networks are generally among the most expensive channels on a cable television lineup, due to the expense of rights to the local sports they carry. A typical RSN, as of 2012, carries a monthly retransmission fee of $2 to $3 per subscriber, lower than the rates providers charge to carry ESPN and premium channels but higher than the rates for other cable networks. These high prices are supported by demand for the often popular local sports teams they carry; transmission disputes between distributors and RSNs are often controversial and protracted.
- 1 Fox Sports Networks
- 2 Comcast SportsNet (NBC Sports Regional Networks)
- 3 Sportsnet
- 4 TSN / RDS
- 5 ESPN
- 6 Independent regional sports networks
- 7 College networks
- 8 Defunct networks
- 9 High definition
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Fox Sports Networks
For years, the default RSN for many markets was owned by Fox Sports, but an increasing trend is for the teams whose games make up the lucrative programming to own the RSN themselves. This serves two purposes: first, the teams make more money operating an RSN than they would collecting a licensing fee from, for example, Fox Sports Net. Second, by owning their own RSN, teams that must share revenues with other members of their league can mask its broadcast-related profits.
Under the old model, a team collects a large fee for licensing its games to the RSN. That fee would then be disclosed and shared with the other teams in the league. Under the new, team-owned RSN model, the team demands only a nominal fee, so the profits for local broadcasting stay with the team. The name of the networks was shortened to Fox Sports (Region/City) with the start of the 2008 college football season as part of a rebranding effort. The Pittsburgh, Rocky Mountain, Utah and Northwest affiliates, owned by DirecTV Sports Networks, were rebranded as Root Sports on April 1, 2011. These channels still carry the same local teams and national FSN programs.
Current Fox Sports affiliates
The current Fox Sports affiliates and the major teams they carry are:
Former Fox Sports affiliates
Some current networks were once owned and operated by Fox Sports Net, and they all still show national Fox Sports Net programs and games, since the markets they serve have no FSN affiliate. These networks are:
|Comcast SportsNet Bay Area||Formerly Fox Sports Bay Area|
|Comcast SportsNet New England||Formerly Fox Sports New England|
|Comcast SportsNet Chicago||Replaced Fox Sports Chicago in 2006 due to acquiring that network's broadcast rights to the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls|
|Comcast SportsNet Houston||Replaced Fox Sports Houston in 2012 due to acquiring that network's broadcast rights to the Houston Rockets and Houston Astros|
|MSG Plus||Formerly Fox Sports New York|
Alternate feeds and channels
Fox Sports Ohio
Fox Sports Ohio is unique among the FSN affiliates in that it operates two full-time 24-hour feeds, one for Cleveland and one for Cincinnati (some television providers improperly call the latter "Fox Sports Cincinnati" to avoid confusion among viewers). National programming is exactly the same on both feeds. However, only the Cleveland feed carries the Cleveland Cavaliers, while only the Cincinnati feed carries the Columbus Blue Jackets and Cincinnati Reds. Reds games also air on Fox Sports Indiana.
Fox Sports Networks subfeeds and alternate / overflow feeds
Some Fox Sports affiliates have subfeeds to eliminate conflicts when two teams that they have rights to are playing at the same time, in order to air both games at once. Fox Sports affiliates that operate these alternate feeds are:
|Root Sports Rocky Mountain||Root Sports Utah|
|Fox Sports South||Fox Sports Tennessee
Fox Sports Carolinas
|Fox Sports Southwest||Fox Sports Oklahoma
Fox Sports New Orleans
Some Fox Sports affiliates have alternate (or overflow) feeds for the same purpose, named after the host network with "Plus" after it (for example, Fox Sports Detroit Plus). In most cases, subfeeds and alternate (overflow) feeds are only used during live games, and are replaced with the main feed's programming the rest of the time; however, these alternate feeds may provide sports-related programming (such as analysis programs that are not aired as a pregame or postgame show) which may be exclusive to that feed.
Some affiliates were once subfeeds, but have since become full-fledged regional channels. Fox Sports Kansas City and Fox Sports Indiana were once subfeeds of Fox Sports Midwest, and Fox Sports Wisconsin was once a subfeed of Fox Sports North.
Comcast SportsNet (NBC Sports Regional Networks)
Seeing an opportunity to serve sports fans on a more local level and generate profits, cable conglomerate Comcast began creating their own RSN – Comcast SportsNet – in the late 1990s. With the January 2011 merger with NBCUniversal, NBC Sports has taken operational control of these networks and they are expected to become more acquainted with their sister national sports network, NBCSN.
Alternate feeds on Comcast SportsNet
As with FSN, most Comcast SportsNet affiliates have alternate (or overflow) feeds to avoid conflicts when two sports teams the network has rights to are playing simultaneously to allow both games to air at once. These feeds are named after the host network with the suffixed "Plus" at the end of the name (for example, Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus). The alternate (or overflow) feeds are only used during live games and are replaced with the main feed's programming at all other times. Comcast SportsNet Chicago also has a second alternate feed called Comcast SportsNet Chicago alternate or Plus 2.
The CSN alternate channels are also used to show college football and basketball games from one of the Fox Sports Networks.
Comcast SportsNet in the San Francisco Bay Area & Sacramento Valley
Since the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of Northern California have a large number of sports teams, Comcast SportsNet maintains two affiliates which split coverage of local sports: Comcast SportsNet California and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. It is the only market that has two 24-hour, full-time Comcast SportsNet affiliates. Due to the territorial rules set by the National Basketball Association, Golden State Warriors games do not air in the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto television market on CSN Bay Area, while for the same reason, CSN California cannot air Sacramento Kings telecasts in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market.
Sportsnet, formerly known as CTV Sportsnet and Rogers Sportsnet, is owned by the Rogers Media division of Toronto-based Rogers Communications. Although for regulatory purposes it is considered a national channel with multiple feeds, in practice its four main channels act as a set of RSNs, albeit with a significant portion of common national programming. The four channels are:
- Sportsnet East, which serves the Ottawa region, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Sportsnet Ontario, which serves all of Ontario, excluding the Ottawa region
- Sportsnet West, which serves Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
- Sportsnet Pacific, which serves British Columbia and the Yukon.
Through the separate Sportsnet One licence, Rogers also operates three part-time regional "companion channels" which provide coverage of additional regional NHL broadcasts which are not able to air on Sportsnet's main regional channels.
Rogers is also a shareholder in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), which owns Leafs TV, a channel devoted entirely to the Toronto Maple Leafs and its farm team, the Toronto Marlies (and is restricted to the Leafs' broadcast territory). MLSE also operates NBA TV Canada and GolTV Canada, which are distributed nationally but focus much of their programming on MLSE-owned teams (the Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC respectively).
TSN / RDS
- TSN1 – Serving British Columbia, Alberta, and the Yukon; TSN does not hold any regional NHL rights in this area.
- TSN3 – Serving Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Northwestern Ontario; this feed began as TSN Jets at the time of the Winnipeg Jets' establishment in 2011 and initially only carried Jets games before expanding into a full channel in 2014.
- TSN4 – Serving Ontario, excluding the Ottawa area; this feed carries Toronto Maple Leafs games and was established in 2014.
- TSN5 – Serving the Ottawa area, Quebec and Atlantic Canada; this feeds carries Ottawa Senators games and was established in 2014.
Although each feed is primarily centred around a particular region, all of the channels are available nationwide, with the exception of NHL broadcasts. (TSN2 is a nationwide secondary feed.)
Bell and ESPN also jointly own Réseau des sports (RDS), a French language sports network which is licensed to serve all of Canada, but in practice focuses on the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec (as there are relatively few francophones outside that province), as well as sister channels RDS2 and RDS Info. This channel carries French-language Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators broadcasts, which (as of the 2014–15 season) are restricted to the two teams' joint broadcast region of Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and the Ottawa area.
Like Rogers (see previous section), Bell is a shareholder in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, including Leafs TV.
Bell Media's parent telecommunications company Bell Canada also owns the Canadian regional rights to the Buffalo Sabres, but those broadcasts (see: Sabres Hockey Network) are produced independently by the team and have no ties to TSN. As of 2014, Bell has made the Sabres package exclusive to its own TV services (Bell Satellite TV and Fibe TV) within the Canadian portion of the Sabres region, which includes parts of the Niagara Peninsula within a 50-mile radius of the Sabres' home arena. Outside of that area, Sabres telecasts, like other out-of-market game telecasts, are included in the NHL Centre Ice package across all providers.
ESPN Inc. itself does not operate any regional sports networks in the United States, due to focusing on sports on a national and international level. However, the network was originally intended to focus on sports in Connecticut, but chose to broadcast nationally when it debuted in 1979 when it was discovered by the network's founders that it would be less expensive to broadcast nationally on satellite as opposed to regionally through microwave transmission. ESPN does, however, place more of a regional emphasis on its ESPN Radio network since most of its affiliates are operated by other companies and have radio contracts with many of the professional teams that make use of the regional sports networks for television.
Independent regional sports networks
The following is a list of regional sports channels which are not part of a larger national network:
|Altitude Sports and Entertainment||This channel is owned by Kroenke Sports Enterprises, which in turn is owned by Stan Kroenke. The channel airs Colorado Avalanche hockey; Denver Nuggets basketball; Colorado Mammoth lacrosse; Colorado Rapids soccer; Colorado Springs Sky Sox minor league baseball; and other Denver and Rocky Mountain area sports, and general interest programming. Altitude's alternate (or overflow) feed is called Altitude 2.|
|Buckeye Cable Sports Network||This channel is operated by Block Communications and serving Toledo, Ohio.|
|Catch 47||Regional sports network serving Tampa Bay, Florida.|
|Channel 4 San Diego (4SD)||This channel is based in San Diego, with rights to Mountain West and West Coast Conference games. Owned by Cox Communications.|
|Comcast Television (Michigan) (CTV)||This channel airs CCHA hockey games, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference football, Mid-American Conference football, Michigan High School Athletic Association games of several sports, college and high school magazine shows, the monthly magazine show about the Detroit Tigers Your Tiger Ticket, as well as outdoor sports shows. Available exclusively on Comcast to Michigan customers.|
|Cox Sports Television||This channel, which is owned by Cox Communications, primarily serves Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Arkansas. Based in New Orleans, airs New Orleans Hornets basketball, New Orleans VooDoo arena football, and regional college action.|
|ESPN Plus and Raycom Sports||Syndicators of college football and college basketball games to over-the-air broadcast television stations and some cable or satellite channels. Their games are also available on ESPN GamePlan and ESPN Full Court.|
|Hometown Sports Indiana||Serving Indianapolis, Indiana, HSI carries Indianapolis Indians baseball, Indianapolis Greyhounds, Wabash Little Giants, Franklin Grizzlies and Marian Knights college sports (mostly football) and Indiana High School Athletic Association-sanctioned high school sports events.|
|Image Sports Network||This channel serves Erie, Pennsylvania. Teams covered include Gannon, Mercyhurst and Edinboro college sports and Erie Explosion indoor football.|
|MSG Network||The first regional sports network in the United States. It was launched in 1969 and serves the New York City Metropolitan Area. Its new sister channel is MSG Plus (formerly FSN New York). The alternate (or overflow) feeds of MSG and MSG Plus are called MSG 2, MSG Plus 2, and the Sabres Hockey Network (the Sabres Hockey Network is a separate channel, unaffiliated with MSG, in Canada; MSG holds the exclusive U.S. contract for the network until 2016). MSG and MSG Plus carry the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, New York Liberty, and New York Red Bulls.|
|Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)||This channel is owned by the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, televises every available game of both teams (320 games annually). Official Network of the Baltimore Ravens, Georgetown Hoyas, George Mason Patriots, UNC Wilmington Seahawks. Partnerships with Big South Conference, BB&T Classic. Regional provider of the Big East Game of the Week (football, men's basketball). Televises more than 520 live major sporting events annually.|
|Midco Sports Network||This channel is operated by Midcontinent Communications, is carried on all Midcontinent cable systems in South Dakota, North Dakota and western Minnesota. Midco Sports Net broadcasts University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University sports, carries Fighting Sioux Sports Network's broadcasts of University of North Dakota sports, along with many other smaller colleges in the Dakotas and Minnesota. Midco Sports Net broadcasts many games in HD and has two alternate (overflow) feeds.|
|New England Sports Network (NESN)||This channel is owned by the Boston Red Sox (80%) and Boston Bruins (20%). Broadcasts Red Sox and Bruins games, the Beanpot, Boston College Basketball, Quinnipiac University athletics, and other live programming.|
|Oc 16 Sports||This channel is owned Time Warner Cable; has a separate channel devoted to local Hawaiian athletics as the exclusive broadcast home of the University of Hawaii, and other live programming.|
|SportsNet New York||Regional sports network owned by the New York Mets (65%), Time Warner Cable (27%) and Comcast (8%). Broadcasts New York Mets and Big East Conference games, as well as supporting coverage of the Mets and New York Jets.|
|Time Warner Cable Sports Channel||Regional sports network operated by Time Warner Cable in the upstate New York cities of Rochester, Syracuse, Watertown, Binghamton, and Buffalo.|
|Time Warner Cable Sports Channel (Kansas City)||Regional sports network serving Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas.|
|Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes||These regional sports networks (each respectively broadcasting in English and Spanish) are joint ventures of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Southern California system cluster of Time Warner Cable. In an agreement signed on February 14, 2011, the Lakers and Time Warner Cable inked a 20-year, multi-million dollar agreement in which all Lakers games not designated for an ABC or TNT national telecast would be televised on two channels, each with English and Spanish-language broadcast teams on separate channels. These networks launched at the start of 2012–13 NBA season, and besides being carried on Los Angeles, Coachella Valley, and San Diego-area Time Warner systems (as Time Warner Cable is the primary cable operator in most of Southern California), the channels will be made available to other television service providers such as Cox Communications, Charter Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T U-verse, and Verizon FIOS.|
|Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA||These regional sport network joint ventures of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Southern California system cluster of Time Warner Cable. In an agreement signed on January 28, 2013, the Dodgers and Time Warner Cable inked a 25-year, multi-million dollar agreement in which all Dodgers games not designated for an Fox or ESPN national telecast would be televised on two channels. These network launched at the start of 2014 MLB season.|
|Time Warner Cable Sports 32||A regional sports network operated by Time Warner Cable in Wisconsin.|
|TV2 Sports||This channel is operated by Service Electric, covers the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Phillies and local high school sports for portions of eastern Pennsylvania.|
|Big Ten Network (BTN)||This channel airs sports involving Big Ten Conference universities exclusively. It is a joint venture between The Big Ten Conference, the conference's twelve schools, and the Fox Cable Networks division of 21st Century Fox. Big Ten Network has four overflow feeds for football.|
|byutv||This channel airs many sports involving the Brigham Young University Cougars, along with BYU-Idaho and BYU-Hawaii, including live and encore BYU football games under a unique rights deal with ESPN (the Cougar football team is currently a football independent). The network is owned by the university itself, though its main purpose since launching in 2000 is to air programming and films pertaining to both BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nationally, with BYU sports serving as a secondary lure for viewers.|
|Pac-12 Network||The national network in a group of seven American sports television networks dedicated to the Pac-12 Conference. The seven networks, titled Pac-12 Networks, include the national network and six regional networks: Pac-12 Los Angeles (USC & UCLA), Pac-12 Washington (Washington & Washington State), Pac-12 Oregon (Oregon & Oregon State), Pac-12 Bay Area (Stanford & Cal), Pac-12 Arizona (Arizona & Arizona State), and Pac-12 Mountain (Utah & Colorado). The national network was available in at least 48 million homes at time of launch, while the regional networks are available in every home of their respective region in Pac-12 territory. The Pac-12 Network will be the third network devoted to a specific conference after BTN and the now defunct Mtn. The networks will be the first owned fully by a conference without support from outside groups (BTN has Fox as a 49% owner and Mtn. had CBS and Comcast as partners).|
|Longhorn Network||This channel is dedicated to the University of Texas at Austin, and is a joint venture between the school, ESPN, and IMG College, though this arrangement has proven controversial to other members of the Big 12 Conference and Texas A&M due to a perceived recruiting advantage. Proposals to air Texas high school football on the network were taken off the table due to these factors.|
The Southeastern Conference explored starting its own 24-hour cable network, but a recent content deal by the University of Florida with Fox's Sun Sports,  and a long-term deal between the SEC and the ESPN family of networks have ended its likelihood. ESPN Plus later reached a deal with the SEC for the syndicated SEC Network for football and basketball games, which is basically under the same arrangement as past SEC rights holders Raycom/Lincoln Financial/Jefferson-Pilot Sports.
|Arizona Sports Programming Network/"Cox 9"||Named for the channel number on which it appeared on local cable systems, ASPN/COX 9 (owned by Cox Communications, the incumbent cable operator for the Phoenix area) aired Phoenix Firebirds baseball games and Phoenix Suns home games throughout its long history. In 2003, the channel removed some of its professional sports and moved to Cox7 (which resulted in the renaming of the channel) and Fox Sports Arizona picked up the cable/satellite rights.|
|BlazerVision||This network aired Portland Trail Blazers games on pay-per-view as late as 2000. It was then replaced by Action Sports Cable Network, which showed other sports events as well. The channel folded permanently in November 2002.|
|Carolinas Sports and Entertainment Television (C-SET)||This channel broadcast Charlotte Bobcats games during the 2004-05 season.|
|Columbus Sports Network (CSN)||This channel had broadcast events, features, highlights and news on professional, collegiate, scholastic and amateur sports teams in the Columbus, Ohio area. CSN ceased operations in 2008 and was replaced by an all-infomercial service.|
|Comcast Local (CL)||This channel existed from 2004 to 2008. It aired professional, collegiate and high school sports throughout most of Michigan and Indiana. The channel held the rights to a number of Big Ten Conference and Mid-American Conference sports telecasts, as well as the Detroit Ignition of the MISL and Canadian Football League games. It was merged into a similar channel, Comcast Television, in Michigan in March 2008.|
|Empire Sports Network||This channel served Upstate New York, and operated from 1991 until March 7, 2005, upon the collapse of its parent company Adelphia Communications and the sale of the channel's principal sports team, the Buffalo Sabres.|
|ESPN West||This network was to have shown games of the Anaheim Angels and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim; both teams and the network were then owned by The Walt Disney Company. It was announced in late 1997, but folded in 1998 before even launching.|
|Grizzlies Regional Sports Network||This proposed network for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies folded before its first scheduled game; the team re-signed with Fox Sports South instead.|
|Home Sports and Entertainment||This channel carried many games of Texas-based baseball and pro basketball teams until it became Prime Sports; it is now Fox Sports Southwest.|
|Home Team Sports||This channel became Comcast SportsNet Washington.|
|Midwest Sports Channel||This channel became Fox Sports North. See also WCCO-TV.|
|ONTV / Sportsvision / Hawkvision||This network aired Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Black Hawks games as a subscription television service in the 1980s and early 1990s. It was once available by converter boxes tuned to over-the-air channel 60 and 44 (now WXFT-DT). It then moved to basic cable and became SportsChannel Chicago and FSN Chicago before it folded in 2006. Its channel space is now held by Comcast SportsNet Chicago.|
|PASS Sports||A Detroit-based regional sports channel that presented coverage of professional and college teams in Detroit and Michigan; in 1997, the channel folded after Fox Sports Detroit won the rights to the Detroit Pistons and bought the rights to the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings from PASS. Some current Fox Sports Detroit announcers formerly worked for PASS.|
|PRISM||This Philadelphia-based network was launched in 1976 as a regional premium television service that featured a mix of movies and sports, as well as some children's programming. Initially carrying all of its programming commercial-free, sports telecasts began to include commercials in 1984 (all non-sports programs remained commercial-free for the remainder of the network's run). The channel held rights to sporting events from the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, and regional minor league and college sporting events. PRISM, along with Sportschannel Philadelphia, were replaced by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia in 1997.|
|Royals Sports Television Network||This channel served Kansas City, western Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa, and was owned by the Kansas City Royals. After the 2007 MLB season, RSTN ceased operations and all Royals games moved to Fox Sports Kansas City, a spin-off of Fox Sports Midwest.|
|SportSouth||Atlanta-based sports channel with professional and college sports coverage from Atlanta and other parts of the South. Originally run in part by Ted Turner, it was sold to Fox and became Fox Sports South in the mid-1990s. As part of the sale, Turner was prohibited from owning another RSN, but used a loophole (by airing some non-sports programming) to launch Turner South, which, on October 13, 2006, was sold to Fox and took on the SportSouth name.|
|SportsChannel Los Angeles||This network, formerly Z Channel, aired Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, and Los Angeles Clippers games from 1989 to 1993. Unlike other SportsChannel affiliates, it did not convert to an FSN affiliate; instead, it folded outright.|
|Sports Time||This network broadcast home games of the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, and St. Louis Cardinals in 1984, and selected home games of the St. Louis Blues in 1984-85. Not to be confused with the current SportsTime Ohio.|
|Sports View||This regional sports network was the cable home of the Milwaukee Brewers for three seasons (1984–86).|
|Victory Sports One||This network was owned by the Minnesota Twins; it folded in 2004 after only three months on the air, due to the inability of the Twins to reach deals with any cable or satellite providers serving the Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Twins games immediately returned to Fox Sports North.|
Nearly all RSNs broadcast select content in high definition. Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet affiliates have dedicated HD channels, which are used for both local and national HD programming, mainly games. All Fox Sports affiliates use 720p and all CSN affiliates and independent channels use 1080i.
- Bathon, Mitchell (February 4, 2014). "Comcast Can Put Houston Sports Network in Bankruptcy". Bloomberg.
- Miller & Shales, pp. 7–8
- Pac-12 Announces deal for national, regional networks, ESPN , retrieved 2011-07-27
- "Pac-12 Networks: News and notes from the Stevenson teleconference". 2011-08-10.
- "Pac-12 creates its own network". 2011-07-28.
- SEC explores launching its own TV Network
- Florida rights deal may rule out SEC channel
- ESPN scores 15 year SEC rights deal
- Kaiser's Blog: Info on RSN history and some regions.