When it comes to creating its own cable network, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies team has learned to its chagrin that it’s not the New York Yankees.
An hour before the start of its first game of the season Wednesday night, the Grizzlies abandoned its strategy of sending the games through the GRSN (Grizzlies Regional Sports Network), a proposed inhouse cable channel. Instead, the team renewed its deal with Fox Sports Net South and FSN Southwest for another six years. Both were able to carry the season opener.
What happened to the Grizzlies blueprint to go it alone is that the team couldn’t get enough carriage on cable systems and satellite distributors locally to inspire confidence that GRSN could make money on its business plan.
The deal with FSN Southwest and Southwest calls for the networks to ramp up the number of Grizzlies games they carry from 25 to 60 per year during the six-year life of the contract.
The networks came up with an acceptable license fee (which the parties declined to reveal) and also agreed to join with the Grizzlies in producing pregame and postgame shows and a weekly highlight program.
Hunter Nickell, senior VP and general manager of FSN South, and Mike Golub, VP of business for the Grizzlies, negotiated the deal.