Sinclair Broadcast Group is still bullish on its sports properties, with CEO Chris Ripley telling analysts that Sinclair’s regional sports network division has “ample liquidity” to operate under.
Ripley also confirmed that Sinclair is rolling out a new streaming launch in the spring to bolster its products further.
Sinclair’s CEO made the comments to analysts during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. As of now, Ripley says the company has direct-to-consumer streaming rights for four MLB franchises. The service is rolling out in time for 2022 Opening Day as they continue negotiating with the 26 other franchises.
Cord-cutting has become more and more popular over the past few years. The percentage of households with a traditional TV package is still at 71% nationwide, but it’s slowly ticked down. Sinclair knows their sports profits are rooted in a stone-age system and is doing its best to pivot.
“We do think we have critical mass in terms of rights to launch a product, and that’s what we intend to do,” Ripley said. If all goes to plan, Sinclair will be showing 14 MLB teams on its streaming platform by the time MLB throws the first pitch on the 2022 season.
As for the other major sports with loaded game schedules, Ripley is confident Sinclair will “get to the finish line with the NHL and NBA,” and have all 30 NBA teams and all 32 NHL franchises streaming on the platform before long.
The move to a streaming-only option marks a major shift for cord-cutting sports fans. Just recently, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban forked over $2.5 million of his money to help Mavericks cord cutters watch games.
“No,” Cuban responded bluntly on Twitter to a media member. “It’s me personally paying $2.5m dollars to buy down the cost of streaming Mavs games so people have an option they can afford. I don’t get any financial benefit whatsoever beyond hopefully having more Mavs fans able to watch the games. I get this is Mavs Twitter, but come on.”
Sinclair appears to be leaping into RSN streaming-only packages, a step Disney has yet to commit on with its ESPN content.
Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.
Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.