HomeUSA

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.

Most recent

Premier League club Liverpool’s decision to launch ‘paid-for’ content options on global video-sharing platform YouTube is a taster of how the platform will develop its sports-broadcasting partnerships.

TF1 and M6’s joint acquisition of Euro 2020 free-to-air rights was struck at a similar per-match fee as the one they paid for the last comparable edition of the tournament, in 2012.

There are two truisms in the sale of sports media rights which at first glance appear difficult to reconcile. One is that every market has a unique set of characteristics and the value earned is contingent upon those characteristics at the moment the rights are sold. The other is that the early deals in a market-by-market sales cycle create a psychological benchmark which affects how sales in the following markets play out.

The International Olympic Committee extended a long run of media-rights revenue growth in Japan in its latest deal with the market’s free-to-air broadcaster consortium for 2026 to 2032, when the special case of the large Tokyo 2020 sales cycle is disregarded.