Sinclair Unveils Original Content Division

In a move that will likely make its MyNetwork TV and The CW affiliates more valuable come retrans renewal time, Sinclair Broadcast Group said it has created its own original content division – called Sinclair Original Programming – that will focus on entertainment content and business-to-consumer content such as infomercials and direct response commercials.

 Initially, shows will be developed for the company’s MyNets and CWs and will air in prime time and afternoon time periods on the weekend. The division will be led by Arthur Hasson, who is being named chief operating officer of Sinclair Original Programming, reporting  to Sinclair CEO David Smith. Hasson will also continue as General Manager of Sinclair’s CBS, CW and MyNet affiliates, in Harrisburg, Pa.

“Combining content ownership with our premier distribution spectrum of over-the-air television and related digital/web platforms is one of the last key components in securing the value of our platform,” Smith said in a statement. “Controlling our content and its development not only reduces our dependency on others, providing a hedge against network disruptions, but allows us greater economic upside potential.”

Smith added that SOP programming will supplement the more than 1,800 hours of local news programming Sinclair produces each week, its planned cable news network, Ring of Honor Wrestling, high school sports and its newly launched American Sports Network, which will produce and air a minimum of 160 NCAA Division I collegiate games per academic year.

“The media landscape is evolving and controlling distribution, as well as the content delivered through that platform, is even more imperative in order to remain competitive,” Smith continued in his statement.

The addition of original content will also boost the value of MyNetworkTV and CW stations, which generally have lower ratings than their Big Four Network (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) counterparts. According to Sinclair’s website, it owns, operates or manages about 40 MyNetwork TV and CW stations across the country. Sinclair has been one of the more aggressive broadcasters in terms of retransmission consent negotiations with distributors.

“Sinclair is a major television broadcaster with multiple distribution platforms and needs for a variety of shows,” Hasson said in a statement. “Our stations have tremendous reach and a wide-range of audience demographics. This venture will provide opportunities for us to meet viewers’ needs and to contribute to the company’s bottom line. By developing original content in connection with talented program producers, we can provide cost effective, flexible projects that can be readily monetized. In addition, we believe there is potential to distribute shows beyond our platforms both domestically and internationally. From the creative side, our large footprint of stations allows us to test concepts and talent efficiently.”

While Hasson will oversee original content development and work directly with production companies and studios, Bill Butler, Vice President of Programming and Promotion, will continue to manage the syndicator and studio relationships, identify programming needs, negotiate content license fees, and oversee promotional budgets and operations.

Hasson has served as General Manager of Sinclair’s CBS and MyNet affiliates in Harrisburg, PA and has oversight for WLYH (CW) in that same market pursuant to a local marketing agreement since 2012. Prior to that and from 2006, he served as Principal/President of MultiPlatform Distribution Company, a producer and distributor of television programming. From 2009 to 2011, he was Co-Creator and Executive Producer of ‘Crowd Sourced Hero’ and ‘Subway® High School Heroes,’ and various other social entertainment programs and competitions. Prior to that, Mr. Hasson was Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of ClubCreate Inc., a music creation software and services company. From 1990 through 2005, he served in various roles at NBC Universal Television Distribution, including EVP - Cable, Canada and Ancillary Sales; EVP – Sales and New Business; and various sales management roles.