With local TV stations' core-advertising still in trouble, major TV stations are going old-school for a remedy: Looking to make deals with big professional sports leagues to air games on regular broadcast/over-the-air TV.
This is due to opportunity. Cable channel-centric, regional sports networks are in financial trouble -- including Sinclair's Diamond Sports group (now in bankruptcy) and Warner Bros. Discovery's AT&T Sports Group (looking to exit the business) -- due to increasing weak financial industry circumstances.
Much of this stems from new virtual pay TV providers -- as well as traditional pay TV providers -- who don't want to carry high-priced RSNs where those network distributors only produce thin profit margins.
This comes after many years of slow, continual cord-cutting by consumers who no longer want expensive pay TV network packages that include pricey regional sports networks (or perhaps any sports networks, for that matter).
Groups say Nexstar Media, Sinclair, Scripps and Gray Television are eyeing NBA, Major League Baseball, and NHL deals for games that would run on their TV station groups, according to CNBC.
At the same time, Disney/ESPN, Apple, Amazon and Google are also looking at local sports. So competition is increasing everywhere for high-rated live content.
No surprise here at least for the local broadcast owners: They see that the only content that performs well on broadcast TV networks and stations for viewers is sports.
In addition, TV stations also know that for advertisers, live programming -- in the form of sports -- commands higher-priced TV advertising -- something stations' ad executives continually seek in those non-political years.
For TV stations the hope is that this will continue to boost their overall carriage deals with pay TV providers -- working in sports content to the rest of their other content -- news, syndication shows, and ad adjacencies when it comes to TV network prime-time programming.
That consolidation would seem to be a better deal for cable, satellite, virtual, and telco pay operators looking to offer consumers a modestly priced package of TV stations, and broadcast/cable networks, hopefully keeping them attached to the traditional “bundle.”