Sinclair Sees Cubs Channel Generating $40-$50M in Cash

Sinclair Broadcast Group expects the new regional sports network it is creating with the Chicago Cubs to contribute between $40 million and $50 million in free cash flow after it launches in 2020.

Speaking on Sinclair’s earnings call with analysts, CEO Christopher Ripley said the new network, Marquee Sports Network, is being looked at as a model for other partnerships in the futures.

“We love partnering directly with the teams and getting alignment of interest there,” Ripley said.

Related: Sinclair Reports Lower Earnings for Q4

“We are a perfect match for any team who wants to do this, and so we’ll certainly be looking for other opportunities and there will be some coming up in the years to come,” he said. “They tend to come up as the contracts expire with the existing distributors, so it’s something we’re definitely keeping track of and looking forward to.”

Among the teams whose local rights deals will expire in the next few years are the Detroit Tigers, whose owners have reportedly explored starting a TV network. 

Related: Sinclair Launching Stirr With National, Local Programming

Sinclair is also looking forward to the next presidential election cycle noting that it expects political ad revenues to set new records after a strong off-year performance in 2018.

“The best TV show on the planet is watching politics. Every other day there's somebody joining the race. It really bodes well for local broadcasters,” said Steven Marks, Sinclair’s COO. “I think [in] 2020, we're not going to be able to get out of the way of the money. It's going to be literally hand over fist. But hard to put a dollar figure on it, but it's going to be enormous.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.