My guess is it took the big TV station group two years to realize the hundreds of pro-Trump, “must-run” opinion segments on its airwaves from former Trump campaign official Boris Epshteyn couldn’t be monetized.
Now, Sinclair says Epshteyn and his segments, titled "Bottom Line With Boris,” as well as a progressive commentator, won’t be part of editorial content going forward. Epshteyn will now take on a “sales-focused role” at the company. NBC News reported Sinclair will instead be expanding more content around “local investigative” efforts.
What does this say about a decision mandating that Sinclair’s U.S. TV stations “must run” these segments in their individual local TV news programming? Now, it’s must stop.
Any major local TV station group worth its salt has always promoted the “localism” among its outlets. Local-minded news directors of any TV station decide what type of editorial content viewers need to see.
Yet, around the same time of Epshteyn's forced commentaries, Sinclair made all its TV stations produce the exact same word-for-word on-air TV promos -- fronted by individual local TV station on-air talent -- touting Sinclair’s journalism. The promos had pro-Trump themes of combating “fake news” and its "danger to democracy."
We can guess advertising had something to do the ultimate pull decision. Programming decisions are tied to viewership, engagement and how much ad time is being bought for a specific piece of TV content.
Think a before-and-after ad adjacency in for “Bottom Line With Boris” might have been challenged in this some markets? Sinclair isn’t disclosing anything yet.
Though local TV stations seem less concerned about advertising revenue these days (more focused on retransmission fees and to a lesser extent, the every-other-year bump from political advertising) core TV advertising remains a large piece of monetization.
Sinclair’s total ad revenue over the last few years looks like this: Broadcast advertising revenue was $1.48 billion (2018); $1.32 billion (2017); and $1.48 billion (2016).
Much of its ups and downs reflect typical every-other-year boosts and declines from political advertising. The largest piece of that advertising pie comes from local news -- 33.6% in 2018; 31.8% in 2017 and 31.6% in 2016.
It’s shelf space, baby!