News, Sports Still Key For Big TV Group Profiles

Is sports the linchpin to all new TV distribution efforts?

Sinclair Broadcast Group found this wasn’t the case,  according to Bloomberg, when it came to dealing with the Hulu with Live TV service, a digital pay TV provider of networks.

Sinclair wanted to use its midsize Tennis Channel in a packaged deal with its TV stations, according to the story. Hulu wasn’t biting, even as Hulu was promoting much live sports programming for its new pay TV service. Price considerations?

Here is what we know: Sinclair declined to pursue a deal for CBS affiliated stations in around two dozen markets, according to a story. Sinclair executives did not respond to TV Watch’s request for comment about the story.

But Hulu still did a deal with CBS directly for content, including a national feed of 14-1/2 hours of CBS programming -- prime time, nightly news and daytime talk shows -- as well as another nine-and-a-half hours of digital news content from its CBSN.



The latter was to fill in for local-affiliate time that would have been provided by Sinclair, per Bloomberg.

Now, it is fair to say, tennis isn’t the NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL, or the NBA -- the four major U.S. TV sports franchises.

Still, it would seem that TV stations carrying even modest viewing sports would give new digital pay TV providers the impetus to make a deal — and perhaps give pay TV owners a bit of an overall premium.

TV stations like Sinclair continue to seek a national profile -- if not with a bigger TV station footprint -- than with other businesses.

Media stock analysts still believe Sinclair has higher aspirations, including starting a rival conservative-based TV news network to compete with Fox News Channel. 

At the same time, Chris Ripley, CEO, Sinclair has said: “We looked hard at launching a national cable news channel, but we decided the world didn’t need another cable news platform. ... Our strength is local news.”

But that statement came in 2017.

Now that Sinclair’s high-profile Tribune Media deal has collapsed, other larger-scale businesses -- and distribution partnerships -- might be needed. Looking to play ball?

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