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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Podcast: Root Sports’ plug-pulling

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Here’s today’s TribLIVE Radio show podcast featuring my guests: Jarome Iginla, the Trib’s Steelers beat man Alan Robinson and — live in studio! — the one and only @suckmeter

And here’s video of the opening rant on Root Sports picking between Penguins and Pirates tomorrow …

Thanks to all who called and emailed.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. JRay3 says:

    Pittsburgh maybe the only US city where that would happen. The NHL outside of Pittsburgh is a distant fourth in comparison to other professional sports league.

    Consider that the NHL is the only league of the four that allows local cable to broadcast playoff games, the other three leagues have all National telecasts for the most important part of their seasons.

    MLB has National deals with FOX, TBS, ESPN
    NFL has National deals with CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN
    NBA has National deals with ABC, ESPN, TNT
    NHL has National deals with Versus or NBC Sports Network or whatever it is called today. CBC in Canada maybe its biggest broadcast partner.

    Yes viewership plays a part and for that item you can not find fault with ROOT’s decision. But ROOT still did a major disservice to many of their viewers (and it may not have been as many as the Pens viewers) by having no backup plan in place.

    Many major markets and cities across the US have stations that own the rights to multiple teams including here in Phoenix. As I mentioned the other day when FSArizona has a conflict between the Coyotes/Suns/Dbacks which they have rights to, they move games to an alternate channel that is typically dark. I travel to other cities and have seen the same type of setup, heck MSG has multiple channels including MSG Plus to work through the two New York and Buffalo hockey teams. CSN in Chicago and Oakland does the same for when multiple teams they carry conflict.

    In this day and age in digital broadcast and with over 1800 channel listings considering HD broadcast channels it is surprising that Pittsburgh is still behind the times.

    If anything this incident showcased a further issue in this day and age of how much improvement in both planning and meeting all of their customers demands ROOT has to go.

    I guess I was one of the lucky ones to witness the exciting conclusion on the MLB Extra Innings package.

    DK: TV is a big part of the equation, but it always bears repeating that the NHL outdraws the NBA at the gate in terms of number of fans, percent capacity and total gate revenue.

  2. Milo Hamilton says:

    Just watched the video of your opening monologue & it was excellent. I was at a buddy’s house watching the Pirate game. About 7:15 without saying anything I got up went into the other room & grabbed his battery operated radio (yes he’s old too) & put it down on the living room floor. He then said matter of factly, “For the end of the Pirate game ?” There was never a doubt what was going to happen.

    The second channel idea is way overdue. Pitt uses channel 188 on Comcast for programming. There’s no reason ROOT couldn’t work out a deal with the cable & satellite providers.

  3. TCB says:

    I just wish I could watch the games somewhere. My center ice package carries the Pens games unless they are on NBC Sports or the NHL network. Center ice then blacks them out. NBC Sports and the NHL Network are under the delusion that I am in the Pittsburgh broadcast network so they black out their broadcast (even though I live in Canton, Ohio and cannot receive Pittsburgh broadcasts). Therefore any Pens games on NBC Sports or the NHL Network are not available to me. Of course, all of the Pens / Isles round 1 games are therefore only a rumor to me.

  4. SJB says:

    The Penguins are under contract with ROOT to have their game broadcast even if it’s against a team of 12-year old’s in a non-contact scrimmage game. Maybe if baseball had rules in place to not allow a standard 9-inning game drag out well over 3 hours then there wouldn’t have been a scheduling conflict. The Pens already moved the game up from 7:00 to 7:30 and they still couldn’t get it wrapped up in time.

    I’ve been in favor of penalizing pitchers and batters to move it along for a long time now. A batter should only be able to step out of the box one time per at bat and a pitcher should have a clock on him like a shot clock in basketball. A batter who can’t get into the box in time gets a strike called against him and a pitcher who can’t get the ball to the plate in time has a ball awarded to the batter. Enough of this procrastination already. Makes golf look like a high energy sprint to the final hole. That stunt with Wandy and Martin against the Phillies a few games ago made me want to pull my teeth out and I think the Phillies should have been awarded a run for delay of game. No reason a normal ball game should take more than 2 1/2 hours and even that’s slow.

  5. TK says:

    1.) The Heidi game was in the late 1960’s not the early 1970’s
    2.) CBS and Fox have changed NFL games in midstream. It is usually when there is a blowout.
    3.) There was a warning given that they were going to switch to the Pens game and would give updates, if necessary.

    Otherwise you were correct, Root did the right thing and the cable companies can find an open channel (#188 or 189 on Comcast) for the rest of the Pirate game if anyone cares to watch it.

  6. SJB says:

    I use

    You have to kill a few popups and tabs at the start and wait for ads to close -.oh, and don’t install anything it prompts you to, you don’t need their software – but after that, you can watch any game, baseball, hockey, etc. and sometimes the quality is very good. I watch all the Pirates and Pens game with it, although sometimes you are stuck with another teams feed.

  7. Thundercrack says:

    I haven’t seen the opening rant yet. But if ROOT Sports had the choice between a Pirate playoff game and a regular season Pens game, wouldn’t they pick the playoff game?

    Shouldn’t they pick the playoff game?

  8. Pucknutz says:

    Moot point Thunder as Jray noted above NHL is the only one that has local broadcast of playoffs. Baseball playoffs are all nat networks.

    But if the could, I agree.

    I will admit I was one of those screaming at the TV that ROOT better go to the PENS game and I most assuredly am not in the hot demographic . :)

  9. ChrisH says:

    I understand your point, however, that scenario would never be an issue since all MLB playoff games are broadcast by national outlets (FOX, ESPN), and not the local cable network.

  10. Pucknutz says:

    Pirate Playoff game is an oxymoron by the way.
    Sorry, debil made me do it!

  11. Jim says:

    This year’s Pens broadcasts garnered the highest average regional sports network ratings for any U.S. MLB, NBA or NHL team since 2002: #bestfans

  12. Jason81 says:


    Reading your comment about the alternate channel, I found it interesting as I went through my guide on DirecTV that the other two ROOT channels (Rocky Mountain and Northwest) have alternate channels. Yet there is an empty channel one below ROOT Pittsburgh that is just listed as a regional sports alternate and is used for various events across the country from time to time. I totally agree that ROOT has some work to do as it pertains to the demands of the Pittsburgh market. If there is an empty channel on DirecTV, I’m sure the other providers have a channel that they can go to as an alternate. It is up to ROOT to make that happen.

  13. fatboy1271 says:

    In this age of the Internet and always on connected devices the set top box being used to show games should have a pop-up asking which game you want to watch!

  14. Ermine says:

    FOX and CBS might switch to another game, during a blow, but they stay in the games home markets.

  15. Ermine says:

    blowout **

  16. pghboyinca says:

    I would watch a replay of Pens scrimmage over a Pirate “supposedly” important game every day of the week. The Pens organ-i-zation is total class all the way and the Bucs no class all the way. The Pirates will finish below .500 again and people will act surprised. The Pirates have heart but not enough talent or depth. Bad drafts, trades, and free agent signings catch up with you. Their starting pitching will collapse.

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