New Orleans Hornets and Fox Sports Announce New Long-Term TV Rights Agreement

Published: June 25, 2012

Hornets games to be available on new “FOX Sports New Orleans” network.

The New Orleans Hornets and FOX Sports today announced that they have reached a long-term television rights agreement that establishes “FOX Sports New Orleans” as the new local television home of the Hornets. Financial details were not disclosed.

Under the new agreement, FOX Sports New Orleans will televise approximately 75 regular-season Hornets games per season, including any games not selected for exclusive distribution by the NBA’s national TV partners.

FOX also announced that its regional sports network currently serving the New Orleans market (FOX Sports Southwest) will be re-launched as “FOX Sports New Orleans” in October to coincide with the start of the Hornets’ 2012-13 season.

“This is great news for our market, for our fans and for our region. This will be tremendous for the New Orleans Hornets and our continued growth. It’s important that we continue to brand our great city and we see no better way than our partnership with FOX Sports and the creation of FOX Sports New Orleans,” said Tom Benson, Chairman of the New Orleans Hornets. “We will be able to further integrate our assets including with our local affiliate WVUE-TV Fox 8. There are many positive moves happening with the Hornets such as the improvements to the Arena and of course our upcoming selection of the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft and this announcement is just the beginning.”

“We are pleased to welcome the Hornets to the FOX Sports family,” said Jeff Krolik, Executive Vice President of FOX Sports Networks. “This is an exciting time for the Hornets and their fans. The team has generated tremendous buzz with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. We are delighted to be partners with them and look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

“We’re excited to be the new home for Hornets basketball,” said FOX Sports Southwest Senior Vice President/General Manager Jon Heidtke. “We look forward to showcasing their games in New Orleans and helping the team grow its fan base throughout Louisiana and their television footprint. We’re committed to making FOX Sports New Orleans the premier destination for local sports programming.”

Hornets’ coverage on FOX Sports New Orleans will include HORNETS LIVE pregame and postgame shows and other team shoulder programming.

FOX Sports New Orleans will become the 21st regional sports network in the FOX Sports Networks family. The network will offer a robust lineup of local sports programming, including SEC football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, Olympic sports and coaches’ shows. Other regional programming on FOX Sports New Orleans will feature Big 12 and Conference USA collegiate events, Texas Rangers baseball, and Dallas Stars hockey. FOX Sports New Orleans will be available to over 1.6 million cable and satellite TV homes throughout the Hornets territory.

FOX Sports is the nation’s leader in offering hometown NBA coverage through FSN, the largest owned-and-operated regional sports network group in the country. FSN serves as the local television home to more than half of all NBA teams, producing more than 1,000 live NBA telecasts per season.

The above is from the Hornets. What follows are our own additions.

This is as we laid out in February, with more details now that things have advanced.

It will be October before things are completely settled, but Fox Sports New Orleans will essentially replace Fox Sports Southwest. As the latter is on Cox, Charter, Dish, DirecTV, Uverse, and more in the local area, this will likely continue, though deals need to be made and maintained. As we often see, carriage struggles are always flaring up in markets, and Benson was involved in one this year.

Look for an evolution of this channel, just as other regional sports networks evolve. Additionally, it is possible for the current coverage areas for the Fox Sports channels to be redone.

With this brings interesting long-term possibilities, such as the Saints moving their shows to Fox Sports New Orleans should CST give up the ghost, as indications are it will.

Bob and Gil are employed by the Hornets, so this change does not directly affect their roles, and any change regarding the commentary will be a separate move. Victor is a CST guy, so him staying would require a separate move.

The commercials seen that involve Hornets sponsors will not necessarily change, though some could.

The thing to carry away from this is that, reportedly, the 10 year deal is not worth much more than than the last deal. It stands to reason that the comments Hugh Weber made on our podcast bear out, and the team is looking for production quality and market penetration more than direct payments. This is good for all Hornets fans.

Joe Gerrity adds:

The deal with Fox Sports ensures that finally, after so many years, DirecTV customers, including so many bars, will be able to turn on Hornets games. The ability to walk into a local watering hole and watch the local basketball team is something that citizens in most cities take for granted. In New Orleans it hasn’t been a sure thing, and in many cases it’s been a guaranteed no.

Other highlights include the news that they will televise approximately 75 games per year, plus whichever games are not broadcast by the NBA’s current national partners. That means… wait for it… ALL THE HORNETS GAMES MIGHT BE COVERED ON TELEVISION.


I’ve written in the past about the problems with Cox Sports, and in particular the lack of availability of a handful of games. This TV deal seems to likely solve all of the longstanding problems. No longer will we try to host watch parties, only to be told that the sports bar we’re in doesn’t carry local basketball. No longer will I go to a friend’s house only to learn that I can’t throw the game on while we play cards. No longer will Hornets fans be forced to watch standard definition basketball, despite the broadcast claiming to be in high definition.

Fox Sports is legit.



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