The E. W. Scripps Company has become the latest over-the-air broadcaster to land a lucrative deal with a pro sports team over the last few weeks.
On Thursday, the company said its Las Vegas-based television station KMCC (Channel 34) will begin airing games played by the Vegas Golden Knights professional hockey team. The first telecasts from the National Hockey League (NHL) team will take place later this year, to coincide with the start of the NHL’s regular season.
As part of the deal, Scripps will transform KMCC into an independent station that will share local news resources with ABC affiliate KTNV (Channel 13), which the company also owns. At the moment, KMCC airs programming from Scripps-owned Ion Television.
“This deal is a significant win for our fans because they will be able to see our games on television and for free, if they wish,” Kerry Bubolz, the president of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, said on Thursday. “This deal is a significant win for our fans because they will be able to see our games on television and for free, if they wish.”
The Golden Knights’ previous television partner was AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain, a regional cable channel owned by Warner Bros Discovery (WBD). In February, WBD said it was in the preliminary stages of pulling out of the regional sports business, opening the door for deals like the one Scripps forged with the Las Vegas Golden Knights this week.
The deal follows a similar announcement made last week by Gray Television that could see games from the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury pro basketball teams air on broadcast television in Arizona. Diamond Sports, the broadcaster that currently holds rights to those games, is suing to block the deal.
The deal between the Golden Knights and KMCC is part of a broader initiative at Scripps to bring more professional sports games on free broadcast television. Last year, Scripps said it was launching a dedicated division called Scripps Sports with the goal of distributing live games on broadcast television and streaming.
To that end, the deal between Scripps and the Golden Knights also includes plans for a direct-to-consumer streaming service that will give hockey fans the choice of watching games on KMCC or over the Internet. More details on the streaming service are expected to be revealed at a later date.
Broadcasts on KMCC and the forthcoming streaming service will include pre-game and post-game coverage. That coverage and the games themselves will also be carried in other parts of Nevada and communities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
“We have been impressed by the Golden Knights’ commitment to winning and their desire to connect and engage with fans in Vegas and outer markets, as well,” Brian Lawlor, the president of Scripps Sports, said on Thursday. “This is going to be a wonderful partnership, and it’s the fans who will benefit most. We launched Scripps Sports with the belief that we could help teams reach more fans through our stations, which do not depend on subscriptions and added fees for the consumer.”
The deal with the Golden Knights is the first broadcast agreement between Scripps Sports and an individual pro sports team. Last month, Scripps Sports signed a broad agreement with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) to air select games on local television, Ion Network and Scripps streaming properties later this year.