from Lynn Henning of the Detroit News,
The Ilitch family is considering forming a regional television network dedicated to coverage of the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings professional sports franchises they own, The Detroit News has learned.
The network would not be launched until early in the next decade, after current Tigers-Red Wings contracts with Fox Sports Detroit have expired, said an executive with knowledge of the family’s preliminary plans. The source requested anonymity because of the potential project’s uncertain nature.
The Tigers and Ilitch Holdings declined comment Wednesday night.
added 8:32am, Press release from the Ilitch organization is below.
Detroit, Mich. - The Ilitch organization, which represents leading sports and entertainment brands such as the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment and a joint venture interest in 313 Presents, today announced that it is exploring the creation of a new regional sports network (RSN).
The RSN would serve as the television, broadcast and distribution home for the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings and additional sports- and entertainment-related content. The extensive exploratory process will begin immediately, and no deadline has been set for completion.
“FOX Sports Detroit is a great partner and we look forward to discussing renewal and extension possibilities,” said Chris Granger, Group President, Sports and Entertainment, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “At the same time, we have two perennially highly-rated and historic franchises, which provide compelling year-round content and programming. As such, we feel our organization is uniquely positioned to explore the launch of what we believe could be a highly successful regional sports network.”
Starting in 1959 with the opening of a single Little Caesars Pizza restaurant in Garden City, Michigan, the Ilitch organization has subsequently grown into a $3.6 billion organization, consisting of 10 operating companies spanning the food, sports, and entertainment industries.
Most recently, the Ilitch organization invested $1.4 billion in The District Detroit, home to all four of Detroit’s major professional sports teams. Additional entertainment, dining, retail, residential and office developments in The District Detroit are underway.
“As leaders in the rapidly evolving sports and entertainment industry, the creation of a new network would be a natural business extension for our organization,” said Granger. “Live sports remain some of the most sought-after content on television and across digital platforms. We look forward to exploring how a new network could be of a positive benefit to our teams, fans and community.”
The Tigers and Red Wings rank number one and two, respectively, in terms of total primetime consumption in the Detroit television market. Notable RSNs that are owned either fully or in part by sports properties include YES Network, SNY, NESN, MSG, MASN and Altitude Sports.