The new agreement extends carriage of the Bounce, Escape, Grit and Laff multicast networks through 2024. In addition, Univision will add Bounce in Washington on Sept. 30.
The $302 million purchase of Bounce, Grit, Escape and Laff is “an authentication of the entire multicasting business,” which has needed a feel-good story. The deal also confirms Scripps’ willingness to take some chances in a TV station industry that has been more about consolidation than innovation.
While diginets still have some hurdles to face — such as rising program license fees — they have captured the attention of general-market advertisers and they are looking forward to the rollout of the upcoming ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard with its expanded capacity. What’s more, the multicast networks are relieved that the FCC’s incentive auction and ongoing repack of the TV band isn’t affecting their station carriage deals to any significant extent.
The veteran cable net sales executive will oversee sales at Bounce, Escape, Grit and Laff.
While the spectrum auction and repack could raise challenges, most multicast network players say they’re bullish on the business, especially with the likely adoption of ATSC 3.0. Diginets keep adding affiliates and expanding coverage and the top ones have begun attracting general market advertising. This is Part 1 of a four-part special report on multicasting. Parts 2 and 3 also appear today. Part 4, running Thursday morning, will focus on the technology of compression and channel sharing. You can read the other stories here.
E.W. Scripps and Cox Media are among the five station groups launching the Katz Broadcasting diginets.
Katz Broadcasting’s Escape multicast network is branching into original programming with a brace of true-crime series and has acquired two other similarly themed programs. The company also has a deal with Nielsen for Escape and its sibling diginet Grit to be rated C3 nationally.
With the additions for the Katz Broadcasting networks, Laff climbs to 76.3% of U.S. and 86.5 million homes, Grit to 88%/99 million HHs and Escape to 78%/88.4 million.