|Launched||October 13, 2006|
|Network||Fox Sports Networks|
|Owned by||Fox Entertainment Group
(21st Century Fox)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
parts of North Carolina
Elizabeth City micropolitan area
Nationwide (via DirecTV and Dish Network)
|Sister channel(s)||Fox Sports South
Fox Sports Carolinas
Fox Sports Tennessee
(Some events may air on overflow feed SportSouth Plus due to event conflicts)
|Dish Network||437 (SD/HD)|
|Available on most cable systems in the Southeastern U.S.||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source for channel availability|
SportSouth is an American regional sports network that is owned by Fox Cable Networks, a unit of the Fox Entertainment Group division of 21st Century Fox, and operates as an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the channel broadcasts regional coverage of sports events throughout the southeastern United States, with a focus on professional sports teams based in Atlanta and Charlotte.
SportSouth is available on cable providers throughout Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina (roughly from Asheville to Charlotte); it is also available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network. The channel's programming reaches an estimated 8.9 million cable and satellite subscribers.
The channel traces its history to Turner South, a cable and satellite television channel that was launched on October 1, 1999 by the Turner Broadcasting System. It was the first regional entertainment network developed especially for viewers in the southern U.S., featuring a mix of movies, comedy and drama series, regional news updates, and unique original programming. The channel also carried coverage of professional sports events from the Atlanta Braves of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association's Atlanta Hawks, and the National Hockey League's Atlanta Thrashers, all of which were owned by Turner at the network's launch and the former two of which also aired in the Atlanta market and nationwide on Turner-owned TBS.
Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner restricted Turner South's distribution to its designated broadcast territory in the southeastern United States, with satellite providers that carried the channel being required to black out the channel in areas not covered by the ZIP codes in Turner South's coverage area.
News Corporation filed a lawsuit against Turner Broadcasting and its corporate parent Time Warner in a Georgia Superior Court on June 15, 1999, citing that the plans Turner had unveiled to carry sports events on Turner South violated a non-compete agreement that the two companies signed as part of News Corporation's $65 million purchase of the original SportSouth in 1996, which prohibited Turner from launching a regional sports network in the southeastern United States until 2008.
Sale to Fox Sports Networks
On February 23, 2006, Fox Sports Net's then-parent company News Corporation, looking to further expand its roster of sports teams and events, purchased Turner South for $375 million. The deal included all existing sports contracts, involving teams that sister network-to-be FSN South (now Fox Sports South) also held the regional cable television rights to broadcast.
After the deal was completed, FSN sought a new name for the channel, with network officials eventually chose to rebrand it as SportSouth, after coming up with about 60 different suggestions. The SportSouth name was originally used as the name for what is now Fox Sports South, which was founded by Turner Broadcasting in 1990 and was purchased by News Corporation's Fox Cable Networks unit in 1996, becoming a charter outlet of Fox Sports Net. Under Turner ownership, the original SportSouth carried Braves and Hawks games, as well as NBA games from the Charlotte Hornets (the since-relocated original franchise now known as the New Orleans Pelicans), World Championship Wrestling events, college sports and some syndicated programs.
Turner South officially relaunched as SportSouth on October 13, 2006, becoming the 15th regional sports network owned as part of Fox Sports Net; the rebrand took place with its first official event broadcast: an NHL game between the Atlanta Thrashers and the Carolina Hurricanes. The relaunched channel dropped all non-sports entertainment programming, replacing it with other regionally produced programs and national sports news, documentary and magazine programming sourced by FSN.
Originally, the two networks only shared broadcast rights to Atlanta-based teams, while FSN South exclusively broadcast games from the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. However, FSN South and SportSouth gradually began sharing rights to sports events from other teams during the late 2000s. In 2008, select Major League Baseball games from the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals were added to SportSouth's schedule (via sister network FSN Midwest), subject to league territorial restrictions. This ensures that both those teams and the Predators have the maximum number of games able to be televised.
In August 2007, News Corporation lifted SportSouth's regional blackout restrictions, allowing the channel to be carried nationwide by DirecTV on its "Sports Pack"; however, some professional sporting events are still subject to blackout restrictions imposed by the major sports leagues for national telecasts. On August 28 of that year, SportSouth acquired the television rights to Tennessee Volunteers sporting events, in a package that includes encore presentations of twelve football games, live telecasts of four men's basketball games, four women's basketball games and six Olympic sporting events, as well as rights to the team's coaches shows for the former three sports.
The Atlanta Braves' relationship with SportSouth and independent station WPCH-TV (channel 17) – which until October 2007, served as the former local broadcast version of TBS – intersected in 2011, when sister network Fox Sports South began producing an annual package of Braves games for the station that were not broadcast by the two networks. On March 1, 2013, Fox Sports South and SportSouth announced that they would acquire the rights to the 45 games, ending the team's contract with WPCH-TV beginning with the 2013 season, marking the first season in 40 years that the team's game telecasts did not air in the Atlanta market on broadcast television.
SportSouth and Fox Sports South hold the exclusive regional cable television rights to the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball franchise; the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA; and the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. SportSouth also provides coverage of collegiate sports events from the University of Tennessee, and nationally televised games from the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference distributed by Fox Sports Networks.
SportSouth mainly airs programs of regional interest (similar to Los Angeles-based Prime Ticket). As such, Fox Sports South exclusively carries national games distributed by FSN from the Big 12 and Pacific-10 Conferences, while sharing rights to the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference with SportSouth. Both Fox Sports South and SportSouth balance their own respective schedules of game telecasts from the latter two collegiate conferences, which are selected based on regional versus national interests. Although the two networks share rights to most major professional league teams, Fox Sports South holds exclusive regional rights to NHL games from the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators; Fox Sports South also covers a somewhat wider broadcast area than SportSouth.
- Bob Rathbun – play-by-play announcer
- Dominique Wilkins – analyst
- Andre Aldridge – sideline reporter and Hawks Live fill-in pre-game and post-game host
- Jerome Jurenovich – Hawks Live pre-game and post-game host
- Mike Glenn – Hawks Live analyst
- Chip Caray – play-by-play announcer
- Joe Simpson – analyst
- Tom Glavine – analyst
- John Smoltz – analyst
- Jerome Jurenovich – Braves Live pre-game and post-game host
- Brian Jordan – Braves Live analyst
- Paul Byrd – Braves Live analyst
- Tom Hart – reporter
- Steve Martin – play-by-play announcer
- Dell Curry – analyst
- Stephanie Ready – sideline reporter
- Pete Pranica – play-by-play announcer
- Sean Tuohy – analyst
- Brevin Knight – analyst
- Rob Fischer – sideline reporter
- "Turner South to Launch Friday, October 1, to Nearly One Million Subscribers" (Press release). Time Warner. September 29, 1999.
- Pam Easton (June 15, 1999). "Fox Sues Turner Over New Network". Associated Press. Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- Landa Moss; Thomas Umstead (March 1, 1999). "Fox/Liberty Cries Foul Over Turner South.". Multichannel News. Cathers Business Information. Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- R. Thomas Umstead (February 23, 2006). "Fox Cable Buys Turner South". Multichannel News. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- R. Thomas Umstead (February 24, 2006). "Fox Cable Will Rise With Turner South Buy". Multichannel News. Reed Business Information. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- "Fox Picks Up Braves' Games from PeachTree TV". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. March 1, 2013.