To be carried on many of Sinclair stations, the new program service has rights deals with various NCAA Division I conferences to offer the live, local games from more than 50 schools. Doron Gorshein heads the efforts.
Sinclair Broadcast Group today unveiled the American Sports Network, a collegiate sports initiative to be broadcast on a number of Sinclair’s television stations, and has entered into comprehensive sports rights agreements with a number of NCAA Division I conferences including Conference USA, the Colonial Athletic Association, Big South Conference, Southern Conference, and Patriot League.
The initiative will be led by Doron Gorshein, chief operating officer of Sinclair Networks, a division of Sinclair, who joined the company in January 2014.
Under these agreements, Sinclair will premiere a slate of live, local sporting events, including football, basketball, soccer, and other sports with the opening of this year’s college football season. The initial launch will include over 50 universities and colleges. These local, live, exclusive games will be broadcast in different regions of the country, including where the conferences are located.
Sinclair’s stations will either be carrying the games and original content as part of the primary program lineup (generally on the Company’s CW and MNT affiliates) or as part of subchannels, complimented by access and distribution on digital platforms.
Sinclair said that “subject, among other things, to successfully securing carriage agreements with distributors in the future, the company’s plans may include potential development of new cable networks and digital platforms focused on these new content initiatives.”
In addition, it added that other television broadcasters have expressed an interest in distributing the games in their markets.
Additional content and distribution elements will include programming that showcases the colleges, students, and student-athletes, focusing on their aspirations and achievements.
Wells Fargo senior analyst Marci Ryvicker viewed the news as positive, writing: “We are encouraged by the company’s initiatives to enhance the value of its non-Big 4 stations. Further, given that SBGI has one of the largest broadcast platforms via M&A, we like the company’s continued investment into original content. Adding sports content (which has proven to be highly desirable) could increase the value of these stations, particularly MNT and CW affiliates. In particular, management expects that this new content will help drive retrans discussions (and rates) with MVPDs.”
“Broadcasters serve and are closely connected to their communities, of which the colleges and universities are an integral part,” said Gorshein. “We believe there is significant value and consumer appeal for live sporting events from these important institutions, and we can offer expanded distribution through our broadcast platforms, as well as on potential new platforms, deepening our connection to our communities. We’re proud to be working with the Conferences on this initiative, which combines compelling local sports and related content, with enhanced localism, diversity, and positive social purpose.”
“This is another example of our foray into the content creation business,” said David Smith, Sinclair president-CEO. “We have a history of producing large amounts of successful, first-run, original content through our local newscasts, high school sports presentations and Ring of Honor wrestling and have demonstrated our ability to brand content and build audience share. The launch of ASN will provide important and valuable content that is directed at serving our local communities, while improving the value of our CW and MyNet affiliates. We are confident in Doron’s ability to lead this endeavor, given his acumen in this arena.”