Sinclair Looking to STIRR-up RSN Content

Sinclair Broadcast Group, just days after announcing plans to purchase 21 former Fox regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Co., told analysts Wednesday that content from the RSNs could find its way on the broadcaster’s fledgling streaming service STIRR.

Sinclair agreed to pay $9.6 billion for the former Fox RSNs in a deal that values the channels at $10.6 billion on May 3. On a conference call with analysts to discuss its first quarter results on May 8, Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley told analysts that non-game programming from the RSNs could be carried by its streaming service STIRR initially, on an authenticated basis. “We very well might populate games as well, but that's to be determined,” Ripley said on the call.

Sinclair launched STIRR in January, a free ad-supported service that has about 40 channels of local news, sports, movies and entertainment programming. Ripley said the goal is to add “well over 100 channels to STIRR, and we have a lot of those deals in the queue.”

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The streaming service is still in “start-up mode,” Ripley added, but the company is encouraged by consumer acceptance for the service in a short period of time. The service is available on iOS and Android devices, as well as Apple TV, Amazon FireTV and Roku platforms.

“We're very pleased with their progress so far, well ahead of expectations,” Ripley said, adding that the service continues to build its user base. While the technology would allow the company to add paywalls, premium and subscription content in the future, that is not in the immediate plan, “but it's absolutely in the product plan.”