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Knights have uncertain local TV future, according to reports

Updated February 24, 2023 - 6:00 pm

While the Golden Knights’ prospects on the ice have looked increasingly bright in recent weeks, the TV future of the team with the best record in the NHL’s Western Conference is uncertain beyond this season.

Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns AT&T SportsNet, has told teams it wants to get out of the regional sports-network business, according to the Sports Business Journal and the Wall Street Journal. The Knights have broadcast the majority of their regular-season games on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain since their inaugural season.

Other teams on AT&T SportsNet stations include the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz and MLB’s Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates. Any potential changes are not expected to affect the Knights this regular season. They have 24 games remaining, 19 of which are scheduled to be shown on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.

The Knights and Warner Bros. Discovery declined to comment.

“The NHL is closely monitoring the (regional sports network) situation,” the league said in a statement. “We will be prepared to address whatever circumstances dictate to provide our fans with access to our games.”

The teams involved were sent a letter saying they had until March 31 to reach a deal to take their local TV rights back, according to Sports Business Journal and the Wall Street Journal. Otherwise, the AT&T SportsNet stations will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Sports Business Journal reported clubs will be allowed to use the same staff and equipment to continue producing games at least through the end of the regular season.

The news comes during an uncertain time for the regional sports network business. Diamond Sports Group, which owns the rights to 12 NHL teams and 42 professional clubs in total, didn’t pay about $140 million in interest payments Feb. 15, according to The Associated Press. That moved the company — which operates 19 “Bally Sports” networks — closer to filing for bankruptcy.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s exit from the regional sports-network business has been in the works for some time, according to the Wall Street Journal. Regional sports networks have faced financial challenges as more and more consumers cut the cord and stop paying for cable TV.

Warner Bros. Discovery still has national TV contracts with the NHL, NBA and MLB to air games on channels like TNT and TBS. The 2023 Stanley Cup Final will be broadcast exclusively on TNT.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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