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Future of watching Penguins and Pirates on TV uncertain

Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: February 20, 2023 (Pt. 3)
Ireland Contracting Nightly Sports Call: February 20, 2023 (Pt. 3) 01:38

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The future of watching the Penguins and Pirates on TV is up in the air.  

Currently, the teams' games are broadcasted on AT&T SportsNet, but its parent company is getting out of the business. But there is no answer for what's next or how to watch the teams. It couldn't come at a worse time with playoff hockey and the baseball season just about to start.  

"It's more of a comfort thing to have sports on in the background. It's things you enjoy doing with friends and family," Josie Madden from Elizabeth said.  

How do you get to watch Sidney Crosby rip a wrist shot or Andrew McCutchen's return? 

"Can't imagine it. We have one of the greatest franchises in the league and we get regular TV," Penguins fan Todd Muleen said.

"I think it's super sad. My family, I know we watch the games on TV every night," Madden said.  

What's causing this mess is Warner Bros. Discovery getting out of the regional sports business. It owns the channel that covers the Pens and Pirates. According to several reports, if the teams don't buy back the rights by the end of next month, the channel will go with a Chapter 7 liquidation filing.  

"If we don't have the Penguins or the Pirates on TV, especially with the Penguins' playoffs, that would be a big hit to the city," said Jim Coen, owner of Yinzers in the Burgh.  

Beyond fans, not having the hometown teams on TV impacts businesses as well. Coen said if people don't see a team on the screen, the product is not leaving his shelves.  

"That definitely hurts business," Coen said.  

Right now, other cities like Houston and Denver are facing this problem with Warner Bros. Other regional sports with different owners are in this too. Fans are hoping something gets addressed soon.  

"This is a huge sports town and people depend on their fandom and consuming sports is part of the enjoyable experiences they have," Madden said.  

"It kind of goes hand-in-hand. Not everyone can go to every game. It kind of builds the interest," Muleen said.  

KDKA-TV did ask both the Pirates and Pens about this, but neither had anything to say. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been on the record saying the league will take over broadcasts if networks fail. 

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