Currently in the ninth year of a 10-year, $120 million deal with Comcast Sports Net, the Portland Trail Blazers and the network have begun negotiations on a new deal, per Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. These negotiations are unrelated to the Blazers' broadcasting agreement with KGW.
The one hiccup, it seems, is the desire for the Blazers to expand coverage to include Dish and DirecTV, something that has annoyed fans and caused Portland to take action in the past.
Analysis from CSN vice president Larry Eldridge and Blazers' CEO and president, per Eggers.
"We're continually trying to gain the widest distribution we can," says Eldridge, limited in what he can say on the subject. "We're in conversations with all of our providers on an ongoing basis."
The Blazers have taken a heap of criticism from their fans on the issue over the years. The club reportedly attempted to get out of the contract at one point, to no avail, even asking the Federal Communications Commission to require CSN to make the games available to DirecTV and Dish.
"Distribution is super important to us," McGowan says. "I don't like the fact there are fans that can't see our games. Unfortunately, I run a pro basketball team and don't make distribution decisions. We know it's an issue, and to the best of our ability, we want to get that solved."
Eggers reports that McGowan's first preference is to stay with CSN, as the network has partnered with the Blazers since its creation at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. McGowan's goal is to get something done by this summer.
"Right now, our focus is to get a deal done with our current partner," he says. "I like long-term partnerships. We've been working with (CSN) for a long period of time. We'd both like that to continue. If it doesn't, we're prepared to talk to the various opportunities out there. There would be a lot of interest in our rights."
"The sooner the better, but it's not something we're going to rush into," he says. "We have a timeline, and we're on it. We still have another year left in the current deal. We still have time.
"It's a big partnership for both organizations. We try to be thorough and have in-depth conversations to improve on the partnership going forward. I would expect to have something done sometime this summer."
Eggers offers an overall look at the current state and history of CSN, as well as potential cable networks that could jump into the bidding process if an agreement is not reached. Click here for more.