Kraken part ways with ROOT Sports
Photo credit: Lethbridge News Now

Kraken part ways with ROOT Sports

Published April 25, 2024 at 2:24 PM

In a groundbreaking move, the Kraken announced they've ended their partnership with ROOT Sports and will now broadcast games for free over the air next season through Tegna-owned stations locally and on Amazon Prime across three states.

Under the multi-year deal, KING 5 becomes the team's official television partner, simulcasting over 15 of the 70-plus non-nationally televised Kraken games on its KONG sister station in Seattle, as well as Tegna-owned affiliates in Spokane and Portland, Ore. Tegna will work with additional broadcast companies in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska to expand coverage throughout those states. The streaming deal with Amazon Prime will make broadcasts available to all Prime members in the covered territories.

«So, we're hopeful that people will be able to participate more and experience this great game and fall more in love with our team.»

Airing 70-plus games on KONG and other Tegna stations, along with streaming on Amazon Prime, replaces the previous setup with ROOT Sports. All Kraken games, except for national broadcasts, preseason, and potential first-round playoff games, will now be available.

This move shifts away from the regional sports network (RSN) model used by ROOT Sports, opting for free channels and accessible streaming platforms. The success of the Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes in boosting viewership through over-the-air broadcasts after leaving struggling RSN deals highlights the effectiveness of this approach.

Unlike others charging $1 per game, the Kraken's Amazon Prime deal is NHL's first, offering games with existing Prime memberships. Led by CEO Andy Jassy, Amazon owns Climate Pledge Arena. The current broadcast team, including Forslund, Olczyk, and Brown, stays. Discussions on Shaw's role continue amidst rumors of Forslund leaving for the Boston Bruins.

«I'm with the Seattle Kraken,» Forslund said. «This is my dream job. I work in the National Hockey League. I work for the Seattle Kraken and I get to do national games. How much bigger a dream can I get?»

In addition to broadcasting games, KING 5 will produce extra content, including a weekly Kraken variety show. This show, replacing the one previously done by Q13, promises unique behind-the-scenes access, according to the team and station.

«I'm really excited about all of the other content as well because we've done numerous specials and series here in the past that focused on the team even before they got to town,» KING 5 general manager Christy Moreno said in an interview. «So, for us to continue that storytelling is really, really exciting.»

The financial gap between the Kraken's previous deal with ROOT Sports and their new venture is smaller. Shifting to over-the-air broadcasting relies heavily on ad revenue, but increased viewership on free channels could help. The Kraken could also boost revenue through merchandise and sponsorships by growing their fan base.

The regional sports network (RSN) model has seen declining viewership, with younger audiences favoring streaming services. This has led to fewer viewers to cover the rising costs of RSNs. Cable companies have responded by removing RSN content from basic bundles, hastening the decline of the model.

«ROOT has been a terrific partner for us; we have appreciated their support as we determined our broadcast plans moving forward,» Kraken owner Sam Holloway said in a release put out by the team. «Today's announcement is a game changer for our fans. Our goal is to increase the ways they can watch our games — whether they're cheering us on at home or on the go.»

De Bonis and the Mariners mutually agreed to part ways with ROOT Sports three seasons into a five-year deal. While the Mariners haven't announced future plans for their RSN, they will continue airing games on ROOT Sports this season. Moving forward, the Kraken aim to maintain their highly-rated broadcast crew and enhance their offerings with more exclusive content.

«It's the fan-facing things that are very exciting,» de Bonis said of the Kraken controlling their own production of broadcasts. «When you have that one-to-one direct access to the talent, the storytelling and the direction and can integrate our mission and what we're trying to do with the fans as well as pushing what they want? I'm very excited about that.»

Source : Kraken leaving ROOT Sports for new TV and streaming deals
April 25   |   39 answers
Kraken part ways with ROOT Sports

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