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FSN Scores Pair of Wins

8/05/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

The National Basketball Association’s Utah Jazz dribbled past a Comcast SportsNet full court press for its cable rights and re-upped with Fox Sports Net last week as part of a long-term affiliation deal.

In concert with last week’s extension of a new long-term pact with Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, the national sports network and its affiliated regional services have now signed rights contracts with 17 pro teams over the past year and hold the rights to 62 of the nation’s 82 pro baseball, basketball and National Hockey League clubs, according to network executives.

The signings come as the regional sports marketplace remains volatile, as teams like MLB’s Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets seek to launch their own networks and as Comcast SportsNet looks for opportunities to build its own portfolio of sports services.

In fact, Comcast attempted to lure the Jazz from FSN Rocky Mountain, according to team sources. As a cable operator, Comcast Corp. has a presence in the state of Utah.

But Jazz chief marketing officer Randy Rigby said FSN’s multiyear deal, which will include a minimum of 40 regular season games and pregame shows — was compelling for the Jazz.

Comcast officials would not comment at press time.

As part of the agreement, Fox will also look to rebrand the service as FSN Utah within the state and will work with the Jazz to bring additional local programming to the network.

“We think the world of Comcast, but we had been with Fox for such a long time and they understood our needs,” Rigby said. “The contracts were designed such that it made it simpler for us to finalize a deal with Fox Sports Net.”

As for the Pirates, FSN Pittsburgh secured the telecast rights to a minimum of 120 of the club’s regular-season games with an option to carry as many as three spring training games, according to the network. In addition to game coverage, the Pittsburgh regional sports network will also provide expanded Pirates-centric fare.

With the Jazz and Pirates deals, FSN has for the most part been able to hold serve

With the Jazz and Pirates deals, Fox Sports Net president Bob Thompson said.

Fox Sports Net for the most part has been able to hold serve with most of its pro team cable deals.

“These latest contract extensions are just another example of how FSN continues to be the optimum choice for professional sports teams to provide the widest exposure possible for their clubs,” he said. “Strengthening our relationships with all of our teams to remain their primary television home for years to come is always our biggest priority.”

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