Examining what the potential NHL expansion could mean for ROOT Sports

ROOT Sports is a struggling regional sports network that covers sports stories around the Pacific Northwest. The network is currently home to the Seattle Mariners, West Coast Conference basketball, UFC fighting, and the Portland Timbers; in other words, the network has fallen on hard times since the launch of the Pac-12 Networks prior to the 2012 college football season. There is a major hole in the networks scheduling, and it could be mostly filled thanks to the rumored NHL expansion franchise.

The NHL franchise would bring the network 81 regular season games to the schedule — and pre-season and potential playoff games — that could bring thousands of viewers to the networks TV screens during what has become a dead period. Those viewers could make it easier for the network to acquire advertising money and would thus help the network with its financials.

Another great thing that ROOT Sports will get from is the programming opportunities that would be created by signing the NHL team to a contract. The network would have the pre-game show, post-game show, season preview and recap, and all-star game coverage. Add in the fact that the network would also give the network random games to show over, and over again — ever watch Mariners’ Mondays?

Seattle is one of the better market media markets in the country, and there is no reason that a RSN should struggle financially. There are 6.9 million people in the state of Washington and 4.2 million in Oregon, and those 10.5 million should be more than enough for the network to thrive with the plethora of sports options in the area — the WHL, Northwest League, Spokane Shock, and the Seattle Storm all have large enough followings to support the network.

The potential NHL team brings a lot of good news to ROOT Sports and its programming team.

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8 replies »

  1. So crazy that I used to watch ROOT all the time and now I literally watch it close to never with the PAC 12 Network and the antipathy I feel towards the Mariners. The Mariners are the lifeblood of the network, so Im sure it doesn’t help they are irrelevant by August (if not sooner) every year. By the way, what is the situation with the Mariners contract with ROOT? Aren’t the Mariners in a place to renegotiate their TV contract for much more in the future? I am assuming this was what they were banking on in signing Felix to an extension and Cano. Obviously, those are bargaining chips for the Mariner to drive up the price of the contract.

  2. A couple of interesting pieces to the puzzle. I agree that Root needs content and 80+ hockey games would be a bonanza with minimum overlap (Maybe March, April and Playoffs). I saw where Root Sports started to do Friday Night JR games. It could be to test the market or maybe use it as a basis for developing local Hockey production skills. I know the Pittsburg Penguins use Root and I would assume they are happy with the relationship. I really think that ROOT is but one option and if an NHL Team comes to Seattle you better believe that Comcast Sport will consider bidding and opening a NW Office, don’t you think?

    Finally, what is a regional hockey contract worth to Roots ($5 Million, $20million)? Just curious not really my field.


    • It would be interesting to see what kind of deal the NHL team gets from ROOT. I think that a ten-year deal worth $200 million wouldn’t be out of the question.

  3. Comcast negotiated a National 10 year deal for $2 Billion about 2 years ago. Rogers just signed a 12 year $5+ Billion deal for the rights in Canada. People want to watch hockey and the cost is probably going to go up.

    • I completely agree, and Seattle does have a lot of hockey fans. The question becomes, what does ROOT think about the league; and how does ROOT feel the investment will pay off?