Sinclair to leverage retrans for Tennis Channel, plans to up carriage from 30M to 50M homes

After paying $350 million to acquire indie cable network Tennis Channel, Sinclair Broadcast Group said it will leverage its upcoming retransmission renewal talks with several pay-TV operators to increase carriage of the channel from 30 million to 50 million homes.

"They are tremendously under-distributed, and the quality of the programming they present is first-class," said Barry Faber, executive VP of Sinclair, in a press conference covered by the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and other media.

The long-anticipated sale of Tennis Channel will benefit a number of stakeholders, including embattled Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, and satellite TV operators Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and DirecTV (NYSE: T), just to name a few. Longtime CEO Ken Solomon will stay on to lead the company.

Sinclair controls 164 TV stations in 79 markets across the U.S.

"One of the few things that has limited our growth has been the lack of distribution that we were being afforded in comparison to our direct competitors because they were owned by larger companies," Solomon said during the conference call. "In the world of rights acquisitions, there are limitations to where you can go when you are" a network distributed in 30 million homes, he added.

Tennis Channel had been shopping itself with a price tag of around $500 million, even though it was revealed Wednesday that it had over $200 million in net operating losses last year.

Sinclair actually tipped its hand about the Tennis Channel deal last summer, when terms leaked about its retransmission renewal deal with Dish. The deal included a clause requiring Dish to carry an unnamed cable channel.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this CableFax story
- read this New York Post story

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