Sporting Kansas City is moving to a new home on TV, and its broadcasts will feature a couple of changes in on-air personalities.
The club is on the verge of announcing a multiyear partnership with Fox Sports Kansas City, which has aired Royals baseball games for the last nine seasons. Every Sporting KC match that is not nationally televised will be on FSKC in 2017.
Sporting KC matches were broadcast on KMCI-TV during 2014-16, which followed a three-year pact with KSMO-TV.
“I think the exciting part for us is that we’re getting a destination that is sports specific,” Sporting Kansas City president Jake Reid said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out they’ve done a really good job in the Kansas City sports market. It’s a destination we’ve wanted for awhile.”
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In its move to FSKC, Sporting KC will retain play-by-play announcer Nate Bukaty, but it will hire new a new color analyst and sideline reporter. Andy Gruenebaum and Jake Yadrich occupied those roles last season. Reid said the search to fill those positions is ongoing.
Under the new agreement with FSKC, some Sporting KC matches will also be shown on Fox Sports Midwest outside of the Kansas City market. The Fox Sports Midwest market expands to all of Missouri, including St. Louis, along with Iowa. FSKC covers Kansas, western Missouri and Nebraska. The TV schedule will be subject to change based on the MLS schedule, which will be released early next month.
“That was a big part of this,” Reid said. “We have this huge Midwest territory that I don’t know if we’re maximizing as well as we could be. This gives us a chance to do that.”
If a Sporting KC match conflicts with a Royals game, the Sporting KC match will air on FSKC Plus, a secondary channel. Viewers who have a subscription to FSKC or Fox Sports Midwest will be able to stream Sporting KC matches on Fox Sports Go.
Sporting KC will continue to produce the telecasts — including 30-minute pregame and postgame shows — but will have access to Fox Sports’ on-air production elements.
“It’s simple for us — it’s live sports,” FSKC/Midwest general manager Jack Donovan said. “There are fans out there who are real fans, so I would think this would bring significantly more people to our network.”
The Royals games on FSKC were the highest-rated prime-time programming in Kansas City each of the last two MLB seasons.
“This isn’t a situation where we need to re-create the wheel,” Reid said. “We’re going to leverage what they do really well and expand our market.”