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Lucy Rutishauser, Sinclair Broadcast Group chief financial officer

Bob Williams speaks to Lucy Rutishauser, Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief financial officer, about the network's purchase of the Fox regional sports networks

Why has Sinclair bought the RSNs? 

The deal is an investment in sports, which, in addition to news, represent the two major pillars of live viewing. We have seen a flood of cheap money into production of general entertainment, first by cable channels and now by big tech companies like Amazon, Netflix and, most recently, Apple. Rather than go up against these companies, who have significant resources to spend, we decided to focus on what we do best: live, local broadcasting.

Why does Sinclair see value in the RSNs in today’s media market?

We strongly believe that the RSNs and their sports rights are accretive and will be valuable for the foreseeable future. We also see tremendous opportunity for the RSNs in the continued adoption of digital streaming as well as the nascent, yet growing legalised sports betting space. We look forward to working with the teams and leagues to move this forward.

There are also opportunities for increased advertising, cross-promotional collaboration, enhanced non-game programming, remote production, and essentially a complementary skillset that we do day-in and day-out as broadcasters.

What potential synergies are there with Sinclair’s TV stations?

We will become the pre-eminent local news and sports provider in the country. These two genres are reliable, as viewers want more and more content focused on local news and sports.

Why is Sinclair launching an RSN with the Chicago Cubs?

We are launching a joint venture with the Chicago Cubs to bring together one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country with one of the largest television broadcasting companies. The Cubs have been delivering unique and valuable live sports entertainment to their fans for more than a century. Sinclair’s strength in production, non-game programming and local sales will support bringing more content to more viewers, all while leveraging the latest technology.

How do the RSN purchases tie in with the ownership of the Tennis Channel and Stadium?  

Local news and sports are the two genres that are most consumed via live viewing; so the RSNs, the Tennis Channel, Stadium, etc. all tie in perfectly with what we do very well: deliver highly desirable content to our audiences.

In the three years since we acquired the Tennis Channel, we have invested in programing and just about doubled its homes reached and are preparing for an international direct-to-consumer offering.

Our portfolio of sports assets also includes a partnership in Stadium, a 24/7 multi-platform sports network with live games and highlights, as well as a local high school sports division, which was recently nominated as an awards finalist.

Earlier this year, we launched STIRR, our first direct-to-consumer offering that includes local news and sports. Overall, this deal deepens Sinclair’s investment into sports.

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