The proposed purchase of Time Warner by AT&T includes local aspects for sports fans. First, AT&T is the minority partner in the M’s ROOT Sports Northwest. That is one of four RSNs that AT&T has an ownership stake, via its purchase of DirecTV last year. Analyst opinions have been split over the years as to whether DirecTV/AT&T would seek to expand their RSN portfolio or sell it off. Given the sports rights that may be acquired thru Time Warner, AT&T may now see those assets as something to capitalize on, especially in the mobile space, going forward.
Second, the Pac-12 Network has yet to agree to a carriage agreement with DirecTV/AT&T. That’s been a thorny issue since the network débuted. And now that AT&T is the largest pay TV operator, this lack of carriage remains detrimental to the conference. As the merger agreement moves through the regulatory process, the standoff between AT&T and the Pac-12 may be an item that gets attention (and resolved) before approval is granted.
There is a long way to go between now and government approval, which is no certainty. Approval would make the new AT&T an even bigger provider and distributor of content than Comcast. With a sports portfolio likely eclipsing it as well. And as such, could impact fans throughout the Puget Sound region.