Atlanta Dream’s television deal with WSB part of local strategy

Chris Sienko. (photo courtesy of Atlanta Dream)
Chris Sienko. (photo courtesy of Atlanta Dream) /

A localized approach to TV for the Atlanta Dream

The Dream announced a new multimedia partnership Wednesday with WSB-TV, a Cox-owned, ABC affiliate station and the highest-rated station in the Atlanta market.

The television station will air 18 games, including eight away games, throughout the season on WSB Now. WSB Now, one of the station’s streaming services, is available through the free WSB-TV app. Four of those 18 games will also air locally on Bounce TV.

The deal has been in the works for about six months, according to Dream President and General Manager Chris Sienko, who didn’t reveal many specifics about the deal, other than the fact that the Dream spoke with multiple providers before going with WSB — a station that has put a lot of muscle behind its streaming video services.

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“There’s no paying of rights, and it’s a different deal structure than Fox,” Sienko told High Post Hoops. “We have a lot more visibility through WSB and their media channels. Be it, WSB itself. Bounce network itself. WSB NOW streaming. Their Facebook pages. Their social media pages. Their newscasts. Them paying attention to our games and broadcasting them. Those are things we never had before.”

The Dream previously aired games on the regional Fox Sports South network, which serves Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. But the partnership with WSB is a market-specific deal with a goal to grow the Dream’s local fanbase, “a new core audience.”

“If they see it, then they can experience it and they’re more likely to come in person,” Sienko said. “And that’s why we added a lot of away games as well, which we have not done in previous years. Because we want people to buy tickets, to actually follow the team when they’re sitting at home and the team is on the road.

“On a regional sports network, you reach a lot of states, and while that’s great to tell your story, people aren’t going to get in their car and drive from four or five or eight hours away to come to a game. So what we really need to do was, really concentrate on this market, and grow our fanbase from here. So Atlanta is the epicenter, and then we start growing out from there, 60, 90, 120 miles.”

Calling the Dream games will be Andy Demetra on play-by-play and analyst Amy Audiber. Demetra currently calls football, men’s and women’s basketball games for Georgia Tech and Audiber is a former University of Miami center who worked as an analyst for the University of Buffalo men’s and women’s basketball.

A few weeks ago it was revealed that long-time voices of the Dream from the beginning, Bob Rathbun and LaChina Robinson, would not return for the 2019 season. High Post Hoops previously reported that Rathbun and Robinson declined to take a pay cut.

When asked about the Rathbun and Robinson, Sienko said, “They both had the opportunity to come on board,” but declined to comment further.

The 2018 Eastern Conference champions will have all but two of its regular season games streaming or televised in 2019. There’s the 18 on WSB, and there will be seven on CBS Sports, six on Twitter, three on ESPN3 and one on ESPN. The two non-televised games will both be games at the Dallas Wings, on June 15 and August 25.

The Dream opens its 2019 season in State Farm Arena when it hosts the Dallas Wings.

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