Back To The Broadcast Future: TV Stations Want To Air Local Sports

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.”

3 comments about "Back To The Broadcast Future: TV Stations Want To Air Local Sports".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, August 14, 2023 at 8:23 p.m.

    WXSP was branded The TV Station With Game 20+ years with Redwings, Pistons, Tigers & Big10 Football & Men's Basketball 04 to 07. In the 80s and early 90s WXMI Fox17 aired The Bad Boy Pistons and did take the Tigers in 95 weekends only did they air the games when it was on WKBD UPN50 in Detroit. I don't know if they aired Redwings games on Fox17 in 80s or early 90s I don't think they did. I know when WXSP aired sports Buffy fans weren't happy about that when Buffy wasn't aired on Tue at 8PM since WXSP had a message board/forum a big mistake it was more complaining than anything else on them they finally got rid of it and just had sports forum as I said hardly anyone post on it.

    The only thing WXSP did was air UPN shows on the weekends after 2002 playoffs for both Redwings & Pistons a staffer working for WoodTV posted it in the Buffy forum also said that don't look at WKBD when they air UPN out of pattern which WXSP aired UPN on the weekends at 8PM to 10PM or at 10PM if there were sports on Sat or Sun. Before they would air UPN after sports night of. WXSP & CW7 would be that would get the local sports if the Pistons, Redwings/Tigers decided to go local in my opinion.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 15, 2023 at 12:06 p.m.

    The independent stations of old were the prime movers when carrying home team sports games was concerned as they had no worries about pre-empting network programs ---especially in the evenings. In most cases, however, the stations had to find deep pocketed full season sponsors who paid premium CPMs for their  ad exposures. Trying to sell off the time in scatter fashion on  a high risk game by game or week to week basis simply wasn't an option. The teams were guaranteed fixed sums for the rights to air their games and no station could chance  not being fully sold out---at the right price.So the question arises, how many stations---again, mostly indies, I assume--- can find major local or regional sponsors for their alloted slate of games for home team baseball, basketball or hockey?

  3. Michael Bell from Epsilon replied, August 18, 2023 at 5:57 p.m.

    I'm most interested to see how NextGen TV comes together.  If it does, then these local station groups should have another untapped revenue source from the "national", addressable and programmatic marketplaces where sports and non-sports viewing audiences can be sliced and diced -- not dissimilar from the pay TV space today where addressable linear TV is a real thing.

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