AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
|AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh|
|Launched||April 13, 1986|
(carries some programming sourced from Fox Sports Networks)
AT&T Sports Networks|
AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain|
AT&T SportsNet Southwest
Root Sports Northwest
|Dish Network||428 (SD/HD, selected programming)|
28, 29 and 32 (SD)|
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh is an American regional sports network that is owned by the AT&T Sports Networks subsidiary of AT&T Inc., as part of the AT&T SportsNet brand of networks and is an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, the channel broadcasts local coverage of sports events throughout Greater Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, as well as national programs from Fox Sports Networks including college sports, and magazine, entertainment and documentary programs. It is the exclusive home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins, and the cable home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
As of August 2013, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh is available on cable providers throughout nearly all of Pennsylvania (outside the Philadelphia market), almost all of West Virginia (except the Eastern Panhandle), western Maryland, eastern Ohio, southwestern border areas of New York and Ashland, Kentucky, reaching more than 2.4 million homes. It is also available nationwide on satellite via DirecTV and Dish Network.
The channel launched on April 13, 1986 as Pirates Cable Network, exclusively serving the Pittsburgh metropolitan area; its first sports event telecast on that date was a Major League Baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs from Three Rivers Stadium, announced by Mike Lange, in which the Pirates shut out the Cubs, 8–0.
The network commenced full-time broadcasts on April 24, 1986 as the KBL Entertainment Network, in order to allow other sports besides the Pirates to be included on the network. Its first regular broadcast was a Pirates home game against the New York Mets. The network was initially owned by Tele-Communications Inc. (now part of Comcast), then the largest cable television provider in the Pittsburgh market. KBL quickly expanded its cable coverage. As early as May 9, 1986; its cable footprint roughly approximated its present six-state coverage area.
While it primarily carried sports-related programming, KBL also served as a general entertainment cable channel while under TCI ownership, essentially filling the void left after independent station WPGH-TV (channel 53) became a charter affiliate of the Fox Broadcasting Company seven months after KBL's debut. It aired children's programming for part of the day, including reruns of the John Candy animated series Camp Candy.
In 1994, TCI transferred the channel to its corporate parent Liberty Media; KBL then immediately dropped all entertainment programming and converted the renamed Prime Sports KBL into an affiliate of Prime SportsChannel America, a partnership between Liberty's Prime Network and the Cablevision/NBC-owned SportsChannel America regional sports network groups. In 1995, Prime Network's retail subsidiary, Prime Sports Merchandising, purchased some sports apparel stores located inside shopping malls and rebranded them as Prime Sports Shops, promoting them on its networks including KBL.
In 1996, News Corporation, which formed a sports division for the Fox network two years earlier after it obtained the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference and sought to create a group of regional sports networks, acquired a 50% interest in the Prime Network from TCI parent Liberty Media. Later that year on November 1, News Corporation and Liberty Media relaunched the Prime Network affiliates as part of the new Fox Sports Net group, with Prime Sports KBL officially rebranding as Fox Sports Pittsburgh. The deal temporarily ended the Prime SportsChannel partnership, although News Corporation subsequently acquired most of the SportsChannel networks the following year; the retail stores, meanwhile, retained the "Prime Sports" name for many years after the rebranding of the regional networks as part of Fox Sports Net. The channel was rebranded as Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh in 2000, as part of a collective brand modification of the FSN networks under the "Fox Sports Net" banner; subsequently in 2004, the channel shortened its name to FSN Pittsburgh, through the networks' de-emphasis of the "Fox Sports Net" brand.
On December 22, 2006, News Corporation sold its interest in FSN Pittsburgh and sister networks FSN Utah, FSN Northwest and FSN Rocky Mountain to Liberty Media, in an asset trade in which News Corporation also traded its 38.5% ownership stake in satellite provider DirecTV for $550 million in cash and stock, in exchange for Liberty Media's 16.3% stake in the company. On May 4, 2009, DirecTV Group Inc. announced it would become a part of Liberty's entertainment unit, part of which would then be spun off into the separate company under the DirecTV name, in a deal in which Liberty would increase its share in DirecTV from 48% to 54%, with Liberty owner John Malone and his family owning a 24% interest. DirecTV would operate its newly acquired FSN-affiliated networks through DirecTV Sports Networks, a new division formed when the split off from Liberty Media was completed on November 19, 2009.
On December 17, 2010, DirecTV Sports Networks announced that its four Fox Sports Networks-affiliated regional outlets would be relaunched under the "Root Sports" brand. The network officially rebranded as Root Sports Pittsburgh on April 1, 2011, coinciding with the start of the 2011 Major League Baseball season. For nominal purposes, the Root Sports networks continued to carry programming distributed mainly to the Fox Sports regional networks to provide supplementary sports and entertainment programming. On April 8, 2016, DirecTV Sports Networks rebranded under the AT&T name as AT&T Sports Networks.
On June 12, 2017, AT&T Sports Networks announced that the network, along with Root Sports Southwest, and Root Sports Rocky Mountain, would re brand as AT&T SportsNet with the channel becoming AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. All network programming and on-air talent remained intact, with the exception of Steve Mears, who in October 2017 replaced Paul Steigerwald as the play-by-play announcer of the Penguins. The name change took effect on July 14, 2017.
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh carries more than 350 live sports events annually (all of which are also available in high definition), featuring a mix of professional, collegiate and high school sports. To fill out its schedule outside various local sports, the network also carries sports events, documentary and magazine programs distributed nationally by Fox Sports Networks through its programming affiliation with its former regional sports network group parent.
The network holds the regional cable television rights to the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball, carrying over 150 regular season and Spring training games annually, as well as rebroadcasts of recent games (as part of Pirates Instant Replay) and the team analysis program Inside Pirates Baseball.
Since the beginning of the 2013 season, AT&T's telecasts of Pirates games are blacked out on DirecTV in many portions of the Pirates' claimed territory, including the Columbus, Ohio market. Despite the blackout, DirecTV does not allow Pirates games to be shown in the blacked-out area on its MLB Extra Innings package.
AT&T SportsNet also maintains exclusive regional rights to most regular season and any early-round Stanley Cup playoff games involving the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins; it also carries Penguins-related programs such as Penguins Instant Replay, Inside Penguins Hockey, Pens Pulse, and In The Room.
On April 27, 2011, the network reached a 20-year contract extension with the Penguins, allowing the network to continue carrying most of the team's NHL game telecasts through the end of the 2028–29 NHL season.
The network formerly served as the cable home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, broadcasting team-related magazine and analysis programs such as weekly press conferences held by coach Mike Tomlin during the regular season and the team coach's show The Mike Tomlin Show (both were hosted by Stan Savran). This continued through the 2016 season. KDKA-TV now airs The Mike Tomlin Show, while Tomlin's Tuesday press conference is no longer televised live.
AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh carries a heavy amount of collegiate sporting events, including the exclusive rights to the West Virginia Mountaineers, carrying all football and men's basketball games not picked up by a national network, as well as select women's basketball games, select other live events (women's soccer, baseball, etc.), the football team's weekly Tuesday press conferences, a coaches show involving all Mountaineer sports, and Mountaineer Gameday, a football pregame show that airs at 11:00 am each Saturday morning during the college football season.
The network carries football, men's and women's basketball, and other events featuring the Pittsburgh Panthers and other Atlantic Coast Conference teams, which are produced by Raycom Sports and Fox Sports South. The network will continue to do so until July 2019, when ESPN will obtain the rights through the new ACC-ESPN Network. The network also airs replays of all Panthers football games and head coach Pat Narduzzi's weekly press conference.
Additionally, the network carries football and women's basketball games from the Big 12 Conference (including additional games involving WVU) through Fox Sports Networks, men's basketball from the new Big East Conference (also through Fox Sports Networks), college basketball games featuring the Robert Morris Colonials and Duquesne Dukes, and select football and men's and women's basketball games from the Division 2 Mountain East Conference, many of which are tape-delayed and shown at a later time due to programming conflicts. It airs magazine programming featuring the Penn State Nittany Lions, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Villanova Wildcats, and Atlantic Coast Conference.
High school sports
High school sports events are also carried on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, including Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League football regular season, playoff, and championship games, and West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission high school football and boys' and girls' basketball championship games.
Current on-air staff
- Dan Potash –sideline reporter (also contributes to Pirates telecasts)
- Steve Blass – color commentator (home games only)
- Greg Brown – play-by-play announcer
- Robby Incmikoski – field reporter (also contributes to Penguins, WVU, and WPIAL football telecasts)
- Joe Block – play-by-play announcer
- Bob Walk – color commentator (home and road games)
- John Wehner – color commentator (road games only)
- Micheal McKenry - studio analyst
West Virginia University
WPIAL High School Football
- Chris Schneider – color commentator
- Rob King (also serves as play-by-play announcer for WVU football and men's basketball and WPIAL football)
- Stan Savran
- Paul Alexander
Notable former on-air staff
- Ryan Burr – now with the Golf Channel
- Lacee Collins – sideline reporter for the Pittsburgh Pirates and other events
- Lanny Frattare – Pittsburgh Pirates' play-by-play (retired)
- Marshall Harris – now with NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Guy Junker – co-host of SportsBeat (now with WTAE-TV)
- Trenni Kusnierek – now with NBC Sports Boston
- Mike Lange – Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play (now with the Pittsburgh Penguins Radio Network)
- Tim Neverett – Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play (now with the Boston Red Sox)
- Eddie Olczyk – Pittsburgh Penguins color commentator (now with NHL on NBC, NBC Sports Chicago, and WGN-TV)
- Pat Parris – Pittsburgh Penguins sideline reporter, studio anchor (now with Fox Sports Midwest)
- Paul Steigerwald – Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play (now with the communications and marketing department of the Penguins' front office)
- Brent Stover – now with Big Ten Network
- Peter Taglianetti – Pittsburgh Penguins color commentator
- Kent Tekulve – Pittsburgh Pirates' studio analyst (retired after 2017 Pirates' season)
- Rich Walsh – sideline reporter (now with KDKA-TV)
- Barbara Vancheri (June 22, 1999). "Analysis: What happens if Armstrong takes over Penguins broadcast rights?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- "Liberty Sports acquires Fan Fair retail stores; subsidiary Prime Sports Merchandising, Inc. will capitalize on regional network resources". Businesswire. August 7, 1995 – via The Free Library.
- R. Thomas Umstead (July 8, 1996). "Liberty Sports regionals will become Fox Sports net". Multichannel News. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- "FOX SPORTS NET DEBUTS ON NOV. 1". The Columbian. Columbian Publishing Company. Associated Press. September 13, 1996. Retrieved April 9, 2015 – via HighBeam Research.
- "Fox putting together national Sports Net // Changes ahead for SportsChannel". Chicago Sun-Times. June 24, 1997. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- "News Corp. Reaches Deal with Liberty Media". The New York Times. December 22, 2006. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- Todd Spangler (May 4, 2009). "DirecTV, Liberty Media Announce Spin-Off Plan". Multichannel News. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Mike Reynolds (November 20, 2009). "Liberty Sports Rebrands As DirecTV Sports Networks". Multichannel News. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- "'Root Sports' new name for sports networks". Denver Business Journal. American City Business Journals. December 17, 2010.
- "Root Sports regional nets now part of AT&T Sports Networks". Awful Announcing. Ken Fang. April 9, 2016. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
- "Root Sports regional nets now part of "AT&T Sports Networks"". Awful Announcing. 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
- "AT&T SPORTS NETWORKS WILL REBRAND ROOT SPORTS IN SUMMER 2017". ROOT SPORTS. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
- "Steve Mears Joins ROOT SPORTS As Play-By-Play Broadcaster for the Pens". NHL.com. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
- "Root Sports Pittsburgh to carry Penguins through 2028-29 season". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 27, 2011.
- "Pittsburgh Live Official Site". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008.