Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley has looked out upon the incoming streaming wars, and has seen a landscape where media conglomerates will struggle to strive.
In an interview with NBC News, he said his company has focused in on news and sports as a long-term sustainable business strategy, and consciously avoided wading into the SVOD market with Amazon and Netflix and soon Disney, Apple, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal.
“We think that’s going to be a sea of blood,” said Ripley. “It’s going to be losses for many years to come for many of those companies who are going to be engaged in a major share battle.”
Sinclair’s streaming strategy is largely anchored by STIRR, its ad-supported service that features channels with curated live local news, local and regional sports, entertainment and city-focused lifestyle programming provided by the Sinclair TV stations in individual cities. In July, the company said that STIRR had reached one million downloads since launching earlier this year.
In sports, Sinclair has a rapidly growing stable of regional sports networks. The company is launching a new RSN in partnership with the Chicago Cubs, and recently closed a $9.6 billion deal to buy 21 RSNs from Disney. Last month, Sinclair and Amazon were part of a deal to acquire 80% of YES Network, the TV home for the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Nets, New York City FC and New York Liberty.
Ripley expanded on how Amazon – which has streaming deals in place with the NFL and Premier League soccer – is going to contribute to distribution of YES Network content. He said Amazon is going to provide a stream a set of games on its platform and add new features to the viewer experience including more data and different audio tracks, which is similar to how the tech giant presents NFL Thursday Night Football.
“They’re going to be focused on innovation and improving the consumer’s viewer experience,” Ripley said.