We told you about the rumors awhile back, and now it's official. Per the email the Hornets just sent me, the team has signed a long-term deal with Fox Sports to televise Hornets games on a newly-branded Fox Sports New Orleans. Per the agreement, the network will televise approximately 75 games a year, including any games that are not covered by NBA national affiliates. This means, for the first time in their New Orleans history, that 100% of Hornets games could be televised locally. Under the previous deal, CST was only obligated to televise 67 games in a season. There is no official word on the financial terms of the deal, though Jimmy Smith reports that it could be in the 10 year/100 million dollar range, which would put it right about at what CST was paying with the previous deal. Other than more games being televised during the season, the main benefit of the Hornets signing this deal is the increased distribution that Fox Sports brings to the table. The challenges of the small broadcast footprint of CST was well publicized and much-maligned. Fox Sports New Orleans will immediately be available over the entire metro area including the North Shore and for Direct TV subscribers (ie plenty of bars). Big news, despite it being expected. Full Hornets press release after the jump.
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.