As we detailed back in July, it clear that there was a loudly ticking clock on the local cable network that handles the broadcasting of games for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The owner of AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh had announced their intention to shutter the station, along with all of their failing regional sports networks.
Luckily, there was an obvious and natural solution for the Penguins to ensure they could get their product out to the consumers, being as Fenway Sports Group also has a branch that operates a RSN up in Boston. Thus, the channel once known as KBL (then Fox Sports, then Root Sports Pittsburgh, then AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh) will get yet another rebranding and new name as FSG takes over officially on October 2nd.
Welcome to the family, SportsNet Pittsburgh!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) August 31, 2023
SportsNet Pittsburgh, a regional sports network owned by the Penguins, will be the home of Pens hockey for all regionally televised games.
The network will begin televising games this season. https://t.co/c2qCFN9NQ3
For now, nothing much is changing for the consumer. If you’re in the local TV market, your channel will remain in the same spot, with the new ownership changing. If you’re out of market, the ESPN+ channel that the Pens are on will look a little different but otherwise remain the same.
It remains to be seen in the future if the Pens will offer any streaming services, similar to how Red Sox/Bruins games are offered by NESN to provide online options for those without cable/satellite packages. Given the way the world is moving rapidly toward streaming, it is likely more a matter of when that happens, not if, but details as of now are not known. For now, the Pens and FSG have surely been busy enough in 2023 after learning the news that Warner Brothers Discovery was getting out of the RSN business, moving to acquire the TV channel and get that going, as the season approaches. For clear reasons, that has been the priority as of now.
The news that FSG took over the channel was largely expected — they had experience in the local TV industry and there is a basic need to make the product available on television for the fans. What is more surprising is rapidly developing news that the new channel and broadcast will reportedly have a different look and feel from the past.
According to some local media, the announcers next year will be different with both Steve Mears and Bob Errey being shown the door by the new FSG operation.
Bob Errey and Steve Mears are both out of the Penguins TV booth. Article coming shortly.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) September 1, 2023
There has been some speculation that last season’s radio team (Josh Getzoff and Phil Bourque) could be moved into the television realm as a result. Former Penguin players Colby Armstrong and Mike Rupp have been more visible on AT&T Sportsnet in recent years, though both of them have other, national television jobs and commitments that could interfere with becoming a regular analyst presence for a team broadcast.
Left unsaid as of press time is what will become of popular in-game reporter Dan Potash, who based on the initial online reaction the powers-that-be may want to consider retaining based on his positive reputation.
Beyond Potash, however, the broadcast team did not have the best perception. The Athletic conducts a yearly fan poll for broadcast crews, the Penguins have finished 27th in each of the last two years and particularly the team-friendly Errey caught some criticism from viewers. One thing that the Pens’ broadcast did not lack was viewers, the team regularly finished at the top of the NHL’s local ratings for viewers
If only to freshen things up, new ownership of the TV channel (and still somewhat new ownership of the team) gets another chance to put their imprint on the game experience, like they did with the new videoboard and $30 million spent on arena upgrades. As time moves on, from the management of the on ice product and investment in Kyle Dubas to now buying the RSN games are on and changing up the broadcast crew, the Penguins are certainly feeling the impact of the Fenway ownership group.
The only thing constant is change, and while the goal of the team will be to provide fans with a quality broadcast experience, one that will apparently be a little different in the future.
Errey confirmed his dismissal and wrote a very poignant note to Pens fans, via Josh Yohe in The Athletic.
Potash reportedly staying on the network for next season.
Can confirm that Dan Potash will remain on Penguins TV broadcasts.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) September 1, 2023