After spending the last three years showing games on KMCI-TV, Sporting Kansas City will have a new broadcast home in 2017. The KC Star is reporting that Sporting is on the verge of signing a multi-year partnership with Fox Sports Kansas City to broadcast non-national Sporting KC games.
The new deal will have it's pluses and minuses for the club and it's fans. On the plus side, Sporting will now be working with a station that specializes in broadcasting sports, and as part of the deal, SKC will have access to some of FSKC's on-air production elements, which should increase the level of the broadcast going forward. It will also allow SKC to have a more centralized regional TV deal as some of KC's games will be on Fox Sports Midwest, broadcasting to all of MO, parts of Iowa and Nebraska as well. Sporting will also be able to have all games available on the Fox Sports Go app, another benefit of the move. While Sporting will still produce their own shows, hopefully the club will take advantage of the on-air production elements and return to having their announcers travel to the away games. That's something the club got away from late in the 2016 season and the production value of the games dropped dramatically because Nate Bukaty, Andy Gruenebaum, and Jake Yadrich would be calling the game from a screen in a studio in Kansas City.
There are some initial draw backs that come to mind though regarding the switch. While FSKC is used to broadcasting sports, the primary tenant on the channel will be the Kansas City Royals, who will obviously get top billing over Sporting KC. When there is an overlap, Sporting games would be moved to FSKC Plus. This is something that will certainly cause some ire among Sporting fans who won't want to go searching to try to find FSKC Plus when the Royals are playing (For those that had never even heard of FSKC Plus like me, here's a handy link to look at to see if you have it.). At least the club won't be in a situation of having tap delayed games like New York City FC have had with YES.
Another draw back of the move, at least in some fans' eyes is the move from broadcast TV. The argument many are making is that there are a growing number of younger Sporting fans who are "cord-cutters" and don't have any cable television, which will keep them from being able to watch the games at home.
There are certainly both benefits of the move and legitimate concerns that fans are right to have heading into the season.
Sporting's broadcast home isn't the only thing changing either, the Star reported that Bukaty will be the only on-air personality returning for games in 2017. Both Gruenebaum and Yadrich will no longer be part of the broadcast team on air. Yadrich for me will be the biggest loss from the team simply because of the knowledge and information that he would share during the entire broadcast (pre-game, game, and post game). Sporting is still struggling in many fans eyes to properly replace Callum Williams on calls for games.
Hopefully this ends up being a really good move for KC all around, making them look more professional and win over new fans on a channel specifically for sports.