Regional Sports Networks
Chapter 5, “Regional Sports Networks,” extends the analysis to the sports programming services focused on the local and regional rights around the country with an emphasis on professional baseball, basketball, and hockey. It is impossible to separate the rise of professional sports in the United States from the evolution of broadcast radio and television, but there has been a steady migration of local coverage from free-to-air broadcast stations to pay services since the 1980s. That is most evident with baseball, the national pastime, and the siphoning of rights from broadcast to cable since 2000. That shift resulted in the rise of carriage fees and the proliferation of regional sports networks in some markets, both of which are evident in the two largest markets in the country: New York and Los Angeles. There is also a pattern from differentiation to concentration, most evident with the regional sports networks within Comcast Corp. (NBC Sports Regional Networks), AT&T Inc. (AT&T SportsNet), and now Sinclair Broadcast Group, which acquired the Fox Sports Net group after the federal government forced iDisney to sell those assets to gain approval of its acquisition of entertainment assets from 21st Century Fox in 2019.