Golden Knights owner Bill Foley talks about his NHL expansion franchise being the “Team of the Rockies.”
Foley is discovering it’s not easy to make that happen.
The Knights are involved in negotiations for TV rights that extend beyond Las Vegas into Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. It’s part of the territory granted by the NHL when it became the 31st member last June. But to create such a package is proving to be daunting because there’s no one regional sports network that can serve all the markets.
According to Nielsen Research, Las Vegas is the 40th largest TV market in the country. Among the NHL’s 24 U.S. cities, only Buffalo is smaller as a TV market (No. 53) than Las Vegas.
“We’re looking at multiple carriers,” team president Kerry Bubolz said Monday. “The trick is to find the right carriers.”
The Golden Knights recently announced their radio home on Lotus Broadcasting (Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM) and are in the process of building a radio network that will include 15 to 20 stations throughout the West.
But the TV deal is far more complicated. Everything has to be negotiated, from rights fees to satellite time to production costs. Which is why Bubolz doesn’t want to put a timetable on when the TV deal will be finalized.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” Bubolz said. “When I was in Cleveland with the Cavaliers, there was Fox Sports Ohio which covered the entire area. You made a deal with them, and that was it.
“Here, we’re trying to meet Mr. Foley’s goal, and it’s taking more time than we originally anticipated. The lack of one entity makes it more challenging. But we want to make the best deal possible and do it right.”
The plan is to have all 82 regular-season games televised live in Las Vegas, either on regional sports network or a local channel, and all seven preseason games. The team has talked to the four local stations (NBC, Fox, CBS and ABC) about being the TV home of the Golden Knights. All four local stations are also on Cox Cable’s basic tier, as well as Prism and satellite providers.
All area providers offer Fox Sports West and Fox SportsWest 2 (Prime Ticket). Cox has its community channel (Channel 96), which also has been the home for the team’s monthly docudrama, “Behind the Vegas Ice,” and could be a landing spot for games similar to the deal Cox has with the Arizona Coyotes in Phoenix.
What Cox or FSW or FS Prime Ticket don’t have is the reach into the intermountain states. That’s where a second regional network, such as ROOT Sports, comes into play.
ROOT reaches all the areas Foley is seeking beyond Las Vegas. ROOT Rocky Mountain is available in northeast Nevada, all of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, along with eastern Idaho, western South Dakota, western Nebraska and western Kansas. ROOT Northwest is available in western Idaho and all of Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Bubolz said he’s confident the TV deal will be made in plenty of time for the start of the season. He also said the team will have separate broadcast teams for TV and radio.
“It does take time,” Bubolz said. “I’ve conveyed that to (Foley). At the end of the day, it’s about getting the local and regional coverage we want.”
Contact Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.