Sinclair has been hot and cold on the idea of putting its massive news operations to work on a streaming video platform, but the company may finally be going ahead.
BuzzFeed cited unnamed sources along with a trademark application that indicate Sinclair is planning to launch a streaming service called STIRR, which would feature a 24/7 news channel with local and national news programming along with live and on-demand access to other shows and movies.
The trademark covers the streaming of multimedia content, television programming and films through a web-based subscription service. If Sinclair is indeed planning to launch a streaming service—and one with a news channel included—it would mark something of a departure from past comments made by the broadcaster.
Last year, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley told the Variety that in the past his company “looked hard” at launching a national cable news channel, but ultimately decided to focus on its extensive local news operations.
Ripley’s comments were in response to reports that said Sinclair was pursuing programming deals with former Fox News stars. Sinclair was also sending out must-run segments for its television stations.
While Ripley seemed to dash the hopes of a national streaming news service from Sinclair, other company executives have recently seemed receptive to the idea—such as Steve Pruett, executive vice president and chief development officer for Sinclair, at the NAB Show in Las Vegas earlier this year.
“That is a place a company could go some day,” said Pruett. “There’s lots and lots of content to be acquired. You could put that on an app and put that on a platform. … The average TV station reaches about 70% of its market once a week, and about 85% once a month. We have lots of reach in this business. But we need to change our mindset and quit thinking we’re just broadcasters.”
Of course, Sinclair would be competing with plenty of other streaming news services. Fox News is planning to launch a subscription streaming service named Fox Nation later this year. CBS years ago launched its own ad-supported streaming news channel, CBSN. And NBC News has hinted at plans to launch a streaming news service. Meanwhile, digital news networks like Cheddar and Newsy have been finding their way onto several streaming platforms like YouTube TV and Philo.