Is Sinclair Looking To Back Out Of Local TV? Not Entirely

Sinclair Inc. -- one of the biggest U.S. TV station groups -- wants to get smaller, perhaps by 30%, according to reports.

Is this a sign of bigger moves to come for the company?

Some time ago, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley mused that the company might consider selling undervalued businesses, “de-leveraging” assets. And in what may be one hint, he said: “We have no sacred cows.”

Well, there has been one sacred cow for the company: TV stations. Long before buying regional sports networks (Fox Corp), or even a cable sports network (Tennis Channel), Sinclair cut its media teeth with local TV station outlets.

Sinclair has around 185 U.S. TV stations in 86 markets -- second only to Nexstar Media Group, which has over 200 stations in 117 markets.



Reports suggest Sinclair would still retain 70% of those TV stations, as well as its majority stake in its beleaguered Diamond Sports, its regional cable TV sports network group. 

It was in 2019 that it bought the former Fox owned regional sports network group (through Disney) for $10 billion.

Now, five years later, it is a shell of what it was -- due to consumer cord-cutting and pay TV distributors' disinterest in carriage for these networks which yield slim to no profit margins. 

This all means that Sinclair needs to be more sharply focused on identifying the most and least productive business across the entire company.

TV stations for sale are estimated to comprise a broad mix of major TV network affiliates (Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, and the CW) in mid-size markets that could fetch some $1.6 billion.

We all know the trend lines here: Massive changes in the linear TV landscape are occurring for both national and local TV outlets.

Cord-cutting has not just affected all cable TV and broadcast networks, but TV stations of all types.

A major focus for local TV stations -- especially those that are struggling -- can be the crucial distribution and carriage fees.

Also, as core TV advertising has been a weak growth business, TV stations are increasingly dependent on the bump those outlets get from political advertising revenues every other year (Midterm and Presidential election years) which can result in healthy quarterly financial reports.

For Sinclair, slimming down its legacy TV business to the most productive TV stations then makes sense.  

The next question is what those TV stations will mean to their associated broadcast TV networks, amid their own issues when it comes to cord-cutting. 

The question is how fast change will take place. The forest of live, linear TV isn't just slowly thinning -- big branches are being taken down.

6 comments about "Is Sinclair Looking To Back Out Of Local TV? Not Entirely".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 13, 2024 at 10:17 a.m.

    Wayne, as I have postulated for some time, the great shakeout that is expected among the lesser cable channels  and streaming services is a function of too many players trying to make a profit by competing for a relatively finite and small base of viewer activity. This problem---too much media competition---- is also  a problem for many TV stations in mid- sized and, especially, smaller markets. Quite a few are barely profitable---even with the help of retransmission fees and some lose money despite such fees. If that's the case with some---or many---of Sinclair's outlets this is certainly the time  to unload them as there are few prospects for a turnaround in their ad revenue prospects---too many regional and local ad dollars are being divertted to digital media and there are no signs that national advertisers have any interest in coming to the rescue. 

  2. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc, May 13, 2024 at 11:13 a.m.

    The country will be better off without Sinclair's biased news coverage too. 

  3. Ben B from Retired replied, May 13, 2024 at 8:20 p.m.

    You just want to censor consertive voices which isn't right and have also lied about Fox which you couldn't back up and never go after MSNBC that is pretty bias and isn't fair or cable news in general. It's just consertive media you go after and never liberal media. Have a Sinclair TV station where you live or do you just take that Sinclair is bias from left wing websites like right wing websites.

    I only watch WWMT for weather only noon & 5PM, weekends 6PM Sat, 6:30PM Sun. 

  4. Ben B from Retired, May 13, 2024 at 8:41 p.m.

    I wonder if Sinclair will be selling WWMT I don't care if they do or don't sell WWMT as I'll only watch for weather 12PM & 5PM, weekends Sat 6PM & Sun 6:30PM. Whoever owns the station I did watch the DT2 when it was The CW before Nexstar took it for WOTV DT2 I thought it be WXSP that is for another day.

    I think whoever buys the 60 TV station will be the smaller TV groups in my opinion kinda with Standard General when they were going to buy WXMI Fox17 in the failed Tribune stations merger. I'm sure Byron Allen will put his name out there and say he'll buy the 60 TV stations which I doubt will happen in my opinion. And I hope not in my opinion since he runs his stations on the cheap he is no better Sinclair, Scripps ect. I hope that Gray would buy WWMT before Byron does. Although Byron could make indie ARC WMI all his cheap syndication court and his other low budget shows on DT2 24/7 which would be bad. 

  5. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc replied, May 14, 2024 at 8:10 a.m.

    Clearly I have hit a nerve. I am a firm believer in local news and local print media, but not a media outlet that supplies its local statioons with propaganda that is untrue. Sinclair has done just that. Imagine reputable network forcing editorials on outlets by the likes of Boris Epshteyn!

    Stations like OAN, Fox and Sinclair owned statiosn are a danger to this Republic.  I have no patience trying to understand other side any longer. we are in trouble and more of us need to speak out. 

  6. Ben B from Retired replied, May 14, 2024 at 8:39 p.m.

    I like local news and also a firm believer in local news I prefer GR over Kazoo as more happens in GR in my opinion watch Wood TV & Fox17 from time to time and weather as for print AP, read Det Freepress & News largely if I like a sports story, I don't trust NY Times, Wash Post both are dishonest in their reporting like bias MSNBC as well. Forcing editorials isn't against FCC rules as that would be government censorship which would be wrong on all levels plus free speech and freedom of the press as well. Boris is no longer working at Sinclair and I didn't like Boris giving his opinion.

    Wrong Fox isn't a danger to the republic or democracy which has always been eye of the beholder. I also watch NewsNation like that Dan Abrams calls out both sides on their lies and spin as well once in a bluemoon do watch BBC News. For the record I'm not voting for Trump or Biden as I didn't vote for either in 2020 I voted 3RD party and will do so again this year I voted Nikki Haley in the MI primary back in Feb. 

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