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Archive for March 12, 2017

Mar. 12, 2017 — How a major player in television is seemingly ready to dump sports

You may not have heard of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, but it is the second-largest owner of local television stations in the country, with stations from Fresno to Washington,D.C.

It also owns Tennis Channel, the Ring of Honor wrestling promotion, and a concern called the American Sports Network. ASN, for the last three years, has broadcast a hodgepodge of athletic competitions including Ivy League and small-college basketball and hockey, Conference USA football, Major League Soccer, and today’s broadcast of Army-Mercer women’s lacrosse.

Yet despite this burgeoning collection of sports properties backed by a public company, it was announced that the plug is going to be pulled on ASN at the end of this month. Reports say that Campus Insiders, a digital news and streaming network focusing on college sports, will take on the labor and the risk of broadcasting most of what was on ASN’s docket.

Which brings up the question: what went wrong?

ASN’s business model, much like Sinclair’s, is that of a “roll-up,” where a holding company buys a number of smaller properties in the same industry, hoping to build economies of scale to make the distribution of television content cheaper over time.

But as what happens at many roll-ups over time, such as MCI-WorldCom and U.S. Office Products, debt accrues or the projected revenue simply is not there. American Sports Network typlically didn’t pay rights fees in order to get programming, spending its money only on the production of the games and securing ad backing from sponsors.

We don’t have exact figures as to how much a 30-second commercial on an ASN sports broadcast is worth, but the fact that ASN is shutting down tells us that it wasn’t enough to remain in business.

It’s a shame, because the network is following in the footsteps of One Sports Network and the World Championship Sports Network as broadcasters aspiring to a wide focus on many different athletic pursuits, but which went out of business.