Root Sports Pittsburgh
|Root Sports Pittsburgh|
|Launched||April 13, 1986|
(carries programming sourced from Fox Sports Networks)
AT&T Sports Networks|
Western, central and northeastern Pennsylvania|
West Virginia (except eastern panhandle counties near metro D.C.)
extreme eastern Kentucky
Nationwide (via satellite)
KBL Entertainment Network (1986–1994)|
Prime Sports KBL (1994–1996)
Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh (1996–2004)
FSN Pittsburgh (2004–2011)
|Dish Network||428 (SD/HD, selected programming)|
28, 29 and 32 (SD)|
Root Sports Pittsburgh is an American regional sports network that is owned by the AT&T Sports Networks subsidiary of AT&T Inc., as an owned-and-operated outlet of Root Sports and is an affiliate of Fox Sports Networks. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the channel broadcasts local coverage of sports events throughout the Greater Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, as well as national programs from Fox Sports Networks including college sports, and magazine, entertainment and documentary programs.
As of August 2013, Root Sports Pittsburgh is available on cable providers throughout nearly all of Pennsylvania (outside of the Philadelphia market), West Virginia, 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, under the new name 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, expanding to what is approximately its present-day six-state broadcast area on May 9, 1986.
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.
Root Sports 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, Root'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.
Root Sports 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 the game replay shows Penguins Rewind and Penguins Instant Replay, and the team magazine program Inside Penguins Hockey.
On April 27, 2011, Root Sports Pittsburgh 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 also serves 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 hosted by Stan Savran).
Root Sports Pittsburgh carries a heavy amount of collegiate sporting events, including the exclusive rights to the Pittsburgh Panthers, carrying the team's men's basketball games and the football team's Tuesday press conferences; as well as football, and men's and women's basketball games involving California University of Pennsylvania and Northeast Conference. The network also carries men's and women's basketball games from the American Athletic Conference (via ESPN Plus) and Atlantic Coast Conference (via Raycom Sports until July 2019 However ESPN purchase the rights and the new ACC-ESPN Network would be launched in August 2019); as well as football and men's basketball games from Pac-12 Conference (including the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament); football and women's basketball games from the Big 12 Conference through Fox Sports Networks.
It also carries college basketball games featuring the West Virginia Mountaineers, Robert Morris Colonials and Duquesne Dukes; the Tuesday press conference of the West Virginia Mountaineers football team; as well as the magazine programs of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Penn State Story), Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Inside Notre Dame Basketball and Inside Notre Dame Football) and Marshall Thundering Herd (Marshall Basketball Today and Marshall Football Today).
High school sports
High school sports events are also carried on Root Sports Pittsburgh including the McDonald's Game of the Week on Thursday and Friday nights during the high school football season, and the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League football championships. It also holds the television rights to Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League's Penguins Cup tournament, and airs the magazine program Trib Total Media High School Edition.
Current on-air staff
- Colby Armstrong – postgame analyst
- Jay Caufield – studio analyst
- Bob Errey – color commentator
- Dan Potash – Penguins, Pirates and the University of Pittsburgh sideline reporter
- Mike Rupp – postgame analyst
- Paul Steigerwald – play-by-play announcer
- Steve Blass – color commentator (home games only)
- Greg Brown – play-by-play announcer
- Robby Incmikoski – field reporter
- Joe Block – play-by-play announcer
- Kent Tekulve – studio analyst
- Bob Walk – color commentator
- John Wehner – color commentator (road games only)
WPIAL high school football
- Paul Alexander
- Rob King
- Robby Incmikoski
- Dan Potash
- Stan Savran
Notable former on-air staff
- Ryan Burr (now with the Golf Channel)
- Lanny Frattare – Pittsburgh Pirates play-by-play (retired)
- Marshall Harris (now with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia)
- Trenni Kusnierek (now with Comcast SportsNet New England)
- 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)
- Brent Stover (now with Big Ten Network)
- Barbara Vancheri (June 22, 1999). "Analysis: What happens if Armstrong takes over Penguins broadcast rights?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications.
- "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. Sun-Times Media Group. June 24, 1997. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- "News Corp. Reaches Deal with Liberty Media". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. December 22, 2006. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
- Todd Spangler (May 4, 2009). "DirecTV, Liberty Media Announce Spin-Off Plan". Multichannel News. Reed Business Information. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
- Mike Reynolds (November 20, 2009). "Liberty Sports Rebrands As DirecTV Sports Networks". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. 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 Pittsburgh to carry Penguins through 2028-29 season". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. April 27, 2011.
- "Pittsburgh Live Official Site". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Tribune-Review Publishing Company. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008.