It was announced today by multiple news outlets, from CNN to The Wall Street Journal, that Sinclair Broadcasting, the parent company of Ring of Honor and one of the United States’ biggest broadcasting companies, had purchased Tribune Media, the media conglomerate that owned the Chicago Tribune newspaper as well as another fleet of television stations, including superstation WGN America, Antenna TV, WGN Radio, a stake in the Food Network, and 42 regional affiliates.
From the Variety article:
“The breadth of the combined company is eye-popping, even after two decades of consolidation of TV station ownership. The combined entity would own 223 TV stations serving 108 markets, including 39 of the top 50. The group’s stations would reach some 72% of U.S. TV households. That’s nearly twice the reach of its nearest broadcast competitors: Nextstar (39%), CBS (38%) and Fox (37%).”
In a press release today, Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley said the following:
“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” commented Chris Ripley, President and CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”
The purchase of Tribune Media could be a huge booster for Sinclair’s own foray into the world of professional wrestling, Ring of Honor. WGN America is available in nearly 70% of the televisions in America on cable television and satellite and could gain real traction. The possibility of putting Ring of Honor on more accessible television has got to be appealing – WGN America is more watched than Impact Wrestling‘s PopTV home and Impact is pulling in around 300,000 viewers an episode. Those numbers could match or even surpass Impact in ratings on WGN. Unfortunately, NJPW‘s television rights in the US are with AXS-TV, which is owned in part by rival broadcasters CBS. Although when that contract is up, they could be wise to bring NJPW to WGN as well, considering the partnership Ring of Honor is sharing with NJPW in it’s Great War against the WWE Coalition.
Another possibility is airing content on Antenna TV, a classic television station that airs shows from the 1950’s till the early 2000’s. They could alter the format a bit to air Ring of Honor on Antenna (possibly rebranding the channel all together), as Antenna reaches even more households, with 86% coverage (this is even more coverage than the USA Network – home to WWE’s Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live – which is only in 82.1% of US households).
While the transaction and sale are finalized and the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, we’ll learn more details as the weeks unfold and Sinclair’s plans for WGN America and Antenna transpire and if Ring of Honor will benefit from these two huge cable stations. If it does, it could be just the boost that ROH and NJPW have been looking for.
Looking at the Top 20 Markets in the US, @Sempervive on Twitter shows a comparison of what they already had, and what they just locked down. Impressive.
Sinclair/ROH already has 7. DC, 9. Boston, 10. Atlanta, 13. Detroit, 15. Minneapolis, 16. Miami, and 18. Orlando.
Sinclair/ROH picks up 1. NYC, 2. LA, 3. Chicago, 4. Philly, 5. Dallas, 8. Houston, 14. Seattle, 17. Denver, 19. Cleveland and 20. Sacramento
While CBS’ Chuck Carroll added some further notes:
Spoke w/ high-ranking #ROH official re: Sinclair-Tribune deal. Very excited about the possibilities. But there have been no firm… (1/4)
discussions about where #ROH will air on new stations including WGN America. It’s premature to speculate. Good news for ROH is … (2/4)
that with every acquisition Sinclair has made #ROH has been added to station schedule. Keep in mind ROH will likely lose affiliates… (3/4)
in this deal because Sinclair will have to sell stations to be in FCC compliance with new acquisition. (4/4)
The stations likely to be sold by Sinclair are in markets where Tribune also has a presence. So #ROH may be unaffected. Too early to tell.
The likelihood that Ring of Honor is a top priority for reshuffling by Sinclair is probably minimal at this stage, but hopefully by the end of 2017 or early 2018, Ring of Honor is given a larger platform to showcase itself.