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TV Stations’ New Goal: More Sports — And Regional Sports Networks? 08/15/2018

TV station groups may not be gaining from a loosening of regulations over TV station ownership limits. But that doesn’t mean fewer opportunities.

Where’s the growth, then? Think sports, which is part of the answer.

Some of the biggest TV station groups might be interested, including Sinclair Broadcast Group. Chris Ripley, chief executive officer of Sinclair, told analysts on Wednesday: “They are fairly interesting. They are a good fit with the broadcast footprint and operations.” He also said: “We continue to seek scale within the broadcast industry. “

Considering Sinclair’s now dead $3.9 billion deal for Tribune Media, all this makes sense.

This could complement local TV stations’ efforts around focusing on live programming — news and sports. That is something Fox TV stations will be pursuing as well after the Disney deal. It could give those companies more negotiating power when it comes to renegotiation.

TV station groups will have some company in the pursuit of these big sports media operations. YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, and Facebook, for example, continue to pursue big, live national sports TV platforms.

Buying regional sports networks may not be any of these companies’ biggest business goals, but it could be a start in getting more massive scale business — sports or otherwise.

The price tag could be a different story. A Bloomberg report suggests the total 22 Fox regional networks could have a $20 billion price tag.  That would be a major leap for the likes of Sinclair and other station groups.

Many analysts believe Fox TV stations will buy more TV stations with the money they are getting from Disney — even with the question mark around higher FCC limits for TV station ownership.

But what programming will those outlets run? Just national TV sports from the Fox network? Perhaps more e-sports or other modestly sized sports leagues looking for a bigger platform?

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