Hornets, Fox Sign Long-Term TV Deal; RSN To Be Rebranded "Fox Sports New Orleans"
Fox Sports and the Hornets have reached a long-term television rights agreement. The net will televise approximately 75 regular-season games per season including games not selected by the NBA’s national TV partners. In the New Orleans market, Fox Sports Southwest will be re-launched as “Fox Sports New Orleans” in October to coincide with the start of the ‘12-13 NBA season. Fox Sports New Orleans will become the 21st RSN in the Fox Sports Networks family (Hornets). Neither Fox nor the Hornets will release financial details, but sources said that the annual rights fee is in the low-to-mid eight figures, comparable to the amount Fox pays for the Bobcats' rights in Charlotte. SportsBusiness Journal first reported the pending deal in May (John Ourand, SportsBusiness Journal).
MARKETING BENEFITS: In New Orleans, Jimmy Smith notes the agreement between the Hornets and Fox Sports “is expected to help the team’s marketing efforts by sending game telecasts to areas that had been excluded because of pricing conflicts between the previous network and local cable providers.” Since the Hornets relocated from Charlotte in ’02, games have been televised by Cox Sports "under what was a ground-breaking cable network deal" that paid the Hornets about $10M annually, and "created the basis for the CST network, which has grown significantly during the past decade.” A source said last month that the deal with Fox “would compensate the team comparably, probably 10 years in the neighborhood of" $100M. Under the new agreement, “many local cable viewers, especially those on the north shore served by Charter Communications, will be able to receive the broadcast signal on their provider’s basic tier of services, of which CST was not part because CST and Charter disagreed on cost factors.” It is “unclear whether the Hornets’ current broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Bob Licht and analyst Gil McGregor will remain in place, though both are employed by the Hornets” (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 6/26).