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Sports >  NHL

ROOT Sports, Spectrum TV reach deal to carry Kraken games in eastern Washington

Feb. 16, 2023 Updated Thu., Feb. 16, 2023 at 8:35 p.m.

By Geoff Baker Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Kraken fans in Eastern Washington will have a greater chance to watch the team’s games after an expanded carriage deal announced Thursday between Root Sports NW and Spectrum TV, according to a source close to the negotiations.

Spectrum, owned by the Charter Communications cable conglomerate, had been the only Root Sports carrier in the state to balk at paying an additional fee to carry the Kraken games when the team launched in October 2021. But negotiations between Spectrum and Root have been ongoing throughout the team’s improved 2022-23 season as general interest in the Kraken picked up.

That interest has yet to translate to strong Kraken TV ratings on Root, although the regional sports network and the team have hoped to generate increased fan interest across greater parts of the state.

Spectrum has a customer base in the six-figure range in parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and though it carried Mariners broadcasts on Root Sports, alternative programming would come on whenever the Kraken played.

The deal had a soft launch in several markets in recent weeks but becomes official as of Thursday, meaning viewers in Kennewick, Yakima, Wenatchee, Walla Walla and other Spectrum markets can watch that night’s game between the Kraken and Philadelphia Flyers. One near-term glitch in the deal still being worked on, according to the source, is Spectrum has yet to set up an alternative channel for nights when the Kraken and Portland Trail Blazers play games at the same time.

For now, when both have competing games, Spectrum will continue showing viewers the NBA team over the Kraken. Medford, Oregon, is still Spectrum’s biggest market, and it has significant Oregon customer bases in Lincoln, Tillamook and Roseburg.

“A lot of cable companies don’t want to take programming away from people that’s already being offered,” the source said. “So, the Trail Blazers games were already being shown, and they’ll keep showing them but also add the Kraken programming where there isn’t a conflict until they get that second channel.”

The alternative channel could be set up in time for the upcoming Mariners season, which would enable viewers to see the final regular-season Kraken games and any additional playoff matchups carried by Root.

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