An open letter to Chris McGowan, the Portland Trail Blazers and ROOT Sports

This summer, most of us fans lost access to watching Blazers games.

Today is the first of October, 2021. Nearly 4 months ago (June 9th, 2021) the team announced a multi-year partnership with ROOT Sports to broadcast Portland Trail Blazers games, among others. The partnership was effectively a death blow to current broadcast partner NBC NW, who this week said goodbye. For many fans, access to Blazer games died along with NBC NW, as not only has ROOT Sports failed to strike deals with any additional mainstream streaming providers (outside of it's parent company, AT&T), it was announced today that they were dropped by DISH TV.

Yet, when the announcement was made in June, you claimed:

"With so many other Pacific Northwest teams already in the ROOT SPORTS family and its broad footprint, choosing ROOT SPORTS was the best decision for our fans. We look forward to bringing Trail Blazers games to new viewers, as well as our loyal fans in Oregon, Washington and Alaska."

Not only has this deal failed to help viewers in Washington and Alaska, but with only 3 days before the first preseason game (which we would all LOVE to watch), and 19 days before the home opener, this statement couldn't be further from the truth for many of us in Oregon.

We as fans are not ignorant of how business works. We realize that the team is going to strike a deal with a broadcast company that offers the best return for their product. Subsequently, the broadcast network smartly tries to leverage their most attractive programming to streaming services and attempt to score the highest price for for their channels. The streaming and cable companies work hard to negotiate these prices down because they are the ones who have to sell their packages to the consumers. In each case, for these parties (team, broadcaster, streaming/cable companies) it is about money. But when hard negotiations fail to deliver an agreement, the loser is the fans, who are not in it for the money.

The situation is reaching a boiling point with the threat of a lost season looming, and the expectation from us fans is for the Portland Trail Blazers to be urging the parties to come to a deal. We understand the need to be profitable, but we have no patience for greed.

In this short span, most of us fans have not experienced frustration levels where we would re-consider our loyalty to the team. But we do not want to reach that point. If that happens, this situation should be considered a failure for all parties. However, as time passes, if suitable deals are not made (and please note that the plural, 'deals', was intentional), fans will be left without good options to see the team. Perhaps initially some watch parties will occur, maybe travel to a bar to watch the game (assuming the bars will have the games), many will attempt to pirate the feeds without paying. But over time the energy for these things will fade and even many of the loyal fans will be just watching highlights or 'catching scores'.

Please don't let this future come to pass. Please waste no more time in securing the broadcast future of the team. Most notably, please prioritize deals with YouTube TV, Sling, Hulu, and restored streaming with DISH.

- Rip City Faithful