Even as Sinclair Aims to Be a Bigger Broadcaster, It’s Building a New Streaming Service Called Stirr

Platform will offer entertainment and news, may compete with Fox News

Sinclair boss Christopher Ripley says Stirr is "coming soon." Getty Images

Sinclair Broadcasting Group president and CEO Christopher Ripley revealed the broadcaster’s new OTT service called Stirr, which comes amid an ever-shifting landscape of how we watch TV.

“There will be no broadcasting business in short order,” Ripley predicted Thursday morning during an interview at the NAB Show New York, adding that “it will all mesh together.”

Ripley confirmed the name of Sinclair’s service, which was first revealed by MediaPost over the summer.

“Stirr will be available in linear and on demand,” said Ripley, adding that he’ll meet with cable providers like Comcast and Spectrum for carriage. “It’s coming soon,” he teased.

The backbone of the service is being built out in Los Angeles and Seattle, with engineers from SBG’s Tennis Channel leading the project, said Ripley. Stirr will tap the resources of Sinclair’s 190-plus local TV stations. It will also build out a news service that some have compared to Fox News, given Sinclair’s conservative corporate roots.

“But it’s not just news,” said Ripley. “You can get your news, your talk shows and your entertainment from best-in-class providers.”

While Sinclair, the biggest U.S. TV station owner, has a presence in more than 80 markets across the country, Ripley said he believes the broadcasting business as a whole “is entirely too small. More consolidation has to be the fix.” Sinclair failed in its $3.9 billion bid for Tribune Media after the Chicago-based company pulled out in August.

Ripley’s revelation about Stirr followed several other NAB Show sessions on the shift from broadcasting to streaming as more consumers choose to pay for internet-delivered TV programming, like Netflix, Prime and Hulu, over ad-supported TV that has been available for free for more than 75 years.

In a discussion about how best to monetize streaming services, RLJ Entertainment evp Titus Bicknell said the company’s AcornTV “will have an $11 million EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) on a $4.99 subscription,” arguing that a subscription service (SVOD) performs better than an ad-supported platform (AVOD).

For his part, CBS Interactive svp Dom DiMeglio said the company underestimated how consumers would watch streaming services like CBS All Access and news platform CBSN. It was assumed people would overwhelmingly watch on-demand; instead, CBSi found that viewers liked to watch live.

“Don’t sleep on live,” DiMeglio implored the crowd of broadcasters, marketers and programmers in the audience.


@ChrisAriens chris.ariens@adweek.com Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.
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