Rumors are swirling that the Trail Blazers are about to decamp CSNW for ROOT Sports NW following their hire of Kevin Calabro. This would represent a return engagement for the team and network in many respects. The team left ROOT precursor Fox Sports NW for CSNW due to the Blazers concerns with the Seattle centric nature of the network at the time, which had the Blazers as second fiddle to the Sonics. It probably helped that CSNW was offering much more than FSNW for the Blazers to become the focal of the new network. That relationship soon turned sour once CSNW could not get widespread coverage throughout the Northwest, leaving many Blazers fans, even in Portland, unable to watch the telecasts.
Two questions immediately come to mind. Are the M’s willing to share ROOT with the Blazers? And can CSNW afford to lose the Blazers? As mentioned here before, ROOT definitely could use more live programming. And locking those rights up in the Portland market ensures extended carriage of the network, beyond it’s Seattle focus. But adding the Blazers would also mean the M’s have to invest in ROOT, which they haven’t really done much of beyond a renovated studio.
Should the Blazers leave CSNW, that network would be in dire straights. With limited carriage as is, the willingness of operators to carry the network without the Blazers would drop further. It seems that CSNW has reached a stage where they must either go big, keeping the Blazers and maybe getting Timbers rights, or sell. Maybe to Fox, maybe to ROOT. Who knows?
While Sonics fans may not care, it makes sense that the Blazers covet the Northwest market. ROOT seems the most logical way to accomplish this. Following the Blazers’ TV decision, the next media item to watch will be whether the team also seeks a radio deal in the Puget Sound market. After all, their radio voice is familiar to long time KJR listeners.