Beginning tomorrow, sports fans in the Pittsburgh region have a new way to experience their favorite teams and games via ROOT SPORTS™, the new brand identity for the three regional sports networks formerly known as FSN Rocky Mountain (and sub-region FSN Utah), FSN Northwest and FSN Pittsburgh.
The new ROOT SPORTS brand makes its on-air debut Fri., April 1 with the 2011 Major League Baseball season openers. The network’s coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs game starts at 1:30 p.m. ET.
“After more than a year of discussion, planning and preparation, we are very excited to reveal our networks’ new face to the world as ROOT SPORTS,” said Mark Shuken, president and chief executive officer of DIRECTV Sports Networks, parent company of the three regional sports networks. “We are passionate fans, supporting our teams from beginning to end, and that mindset is what sets us apart from any other sports content provider. This enables us to go from simply covering teams and games to providing an immersive experience as a fan and for the fan.”
“The name, ROOT SPORTS, reflects the networks’ new approach and core brand values,” said Geoff Walker, vice president of marketing for DIRECTV Sports Networks. “Our new brand has a double meaning that we believe is unique in sports broadcasting. We are taking this opportunity to distinguish ourselves from other regional sports networks.”
The name, ROOT SPORTS, reinforces that these networks are grounded in their respective communities and through local sports and local fans, have something to collectively know, embrace and celebrate. It also acknowledges the idea of rooting for the home team to win and be successful, Walker said.
“ROOT SPORTS’ approach creates an authentic product that is rooted and connected in the community, invested in its people and committed to providing the highest quality shared experience for its teams and their fans. This is also the personality and attitude of ROOT SPORTS,” he said.
ROOT SPORTS makes up one of the strongest regional sports networks in the United States, collectively broadcasting sport events from more than 25 teams and conferences through exclusive programming and distribution partnerships to more than 8.7 million viewers across 18 states. (For more specifics on ROOT SPORTS’ three regional networks, please see the fact sheet at www.rootsports.com
, which launches on April 1, 2011.)
The new brand is the result of more than a year of planning, preparation and execution, Walker said.
“We started from scratch in thinking about what fans want from a regional sports network,” Walker said. “We spent a lot of time talking with our team partners and other key stakeholders, but most importantly, we talked a lot with sports fans in each of our markets. It became clear that they want a broadcast partner that provides honest and authentic coverage from the hometown fan’s point of view. That’s what we will deliver to them through ROOT SPORTS.”
In 2010, the company engaged Troika Design Group to develop the new brand identify for ROOT SPORTS. Troika, a Hollywood-based branding and design agency, has developed some of the elements of the world’s most recognizable entertainment, news and sports industry brands, including HBO, the National Football League, ESPN, NBC Sports and others. (For details and a complete client list, see www.troika.tv
“Troika has done an outstanding job for us in developing an exciting, unique viewer experience,” Walker said. “The overall music, graphics, the show openings and programming transitions – everything about the look and feel reflects our brand promise to deliver an experience that is authentic, dynamic and bold, and with a decidedly local flavor.”
Walker said the shift to the new brand identity of ROOT SPORTS will be subtle in some ways and will be rolled out over the course of 2011, beginning with the Major League Baseball regular season.
While the look and feel of the ROOT SPORTS broadcasts will be different, all of the existing team partnerships and programming remain intact as do the distribution agreements with cable and satellite operators. ROOT SPORTS will be available on the same channels and on all the same cable, satellite and television service providers that carried FSN Rocky Mountain, FSN Pittsburgh and FSN Northwest.
“We aren’t changing our partnerships, channels, programming or talent,” Walker said. “But the viewer experience will be different. You’ll see changes in the look and feel of our broadcasts, as well as how we talk about and promote the games. We’re passionate fans, too, and that passion will help frame the viewer experience in all of our markets.”