As regional sports networks flounder, a new — if familiar — name is emerging in local broadcasting.
On Thursday, the E.W. Scripps Co. announced the launch of its sports division, which will seek to acquire sports rights for certain leagues and teams.
- Scripps, founded in 1878, will look to leverage its 61 local TV stations and will also seek out national rights.
- While the company will reportedly shy away from certain major national rights such as the NBA, NASCAR, and Pac-12, it could bid for less established properties like the NWSL.
- Scripps could leverage the ION television network, which it bought for $2.65 billion in January 2021.
“Between our vast number of local stations and ION, a national network that can be customized in many markets, we believe Scripps is positioned to widely showcase leagues and players that are currently limited by aging distribution deals,” said Scripps Sports president Brian Lawlor.
With local sports broadcasts limited to streaming services and RSNs struggling amid ongoing cord-cutting, Scripps sees an opportunity to fill the gap.
“We are witnessing a massive reset in the sports distribution and rights landscape,” said Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson. “The old model is not set up to move forward, and we are really well-situated to participate in future models with sports teams, leagues, and conferences.”
Diamond Sports Group, which owns the 19 Bally’s RSNs, reported a 10% drop in subscribers in 2022.