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Fox Success Helps Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group is pretty happy to have Fox affiliates among its roster of 58 stations, particularly as ratings tumble for the network’s competitors.

That’s according to president and CEO David Smith, who spoke Tuesday at the Bear Stearns Media Conference.

He pointed to the ratings boost Fox affiliates got from last month’s Super Bowl XLII -- the second-most-watched TV event ever. The game generated some $5 million in revenue for Sinclair stations.

“The success of Fox has been a real driver for us,” Smith said.

Fox also emerged from the now-ended writers’ strike with its ratings in good shape thanks to reality hits not affected by the shutdown. The other Big Four networks saw ratings slide.

This year, Sinclair expects political ad spending to be another boon for its stations, which also include ABC, MyNetworkTV, The CW, CBS and NBC affiliates.

Smith wouldn’t predict how much political revenue Sinclair will see, only noting that in 2006, he expected some $20 million but the final tally was well over $30 million.

Still, fortunately for Sinclair, its business -- like that of other TV-station owners -- is flattening out the ups and downs of every-other-year election cycles. Sinclair, like other TV-station-owner groups, is morphing from a one-pronged business where it relied almost exclusively on selling spots to one where retransmission-consent fees and content on digital stations is generating new revenue streams.

Smith was also optimistic that viewers by the third quarter of next year will be paying for live TV content on mobile devices, with advertisers chasing after these viewers.

“I don’t see anything at this point to suggest that the public won’t adopt this,” he added. “The ability to take out your phone and look at the news for weather, for whatever’s going on -- the business possibilities for us to deliver this content to mobile devices is just enormous.”