COMCAST SPORTSNET LAUNCHES OCTOBER 1, LANDS 76ERS' RIGHTS
Comcast SportsNet, the new Philadelphia RSN that is a
joint venture between Comcast-Spectacor and the Phillies,
will launch as a basic cable service in October. The RSN
has acquired broadcast rights to the 76ers, and now holds
cable rights to the Phillies, Flyers and 76ers. Comcast
SportsNet also signed a deal to carry Fox Sports Net
programming. Additional programming will include the AHL
Phantoms, NPSL Kixx, local sports news shows and fan-
interactive sports talk shows (Comcast-Spectacor).
REAX: In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton writes that Prism,
who held the rights to the 76ers, and SportsChannel
Philadelphia will go off the air September 30. He adds that
yesterday's deal "signals the end of a turf war" between
Comcast and "rival" Cablevision Systems Corp., parent of
SportsChannel Philadelphia/Prism. Bruton: "Comcast appears
to be the big winner." Comcast SportsNet "is expected to be
offered to local and area cable operators for as much as
$1.50 per customer, a hefty rate in the cable business. The
operators either will take some loss to have such a coveted
sports network or they'll pass the cost to viewers"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/22). Rainbow Media Exec VP/Sports
Michael Blair said that "relinquishing the Sixers' rights"
to Comcast now "was good business." Blair said that since
Rainbow Media is a partner with Fox Sports Net, "it made
sense to have the Sixers on the Comcast channel." Comcast
SportsNet President Jack Williams estimates that the network
will launch in more than 2 million homes out of a potential
market of 2.5 million. Around 20 Sixers games will be seen
on an over-the-air channel (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/22).