Sinclair Broadcast Group, the national telecommunications company, is doing something that is pretty new to the industry, and it’s working out well. The company is providing local content to its viewers via streaming. Sinclair named their platform STIRR, and it is supported with advertising; in this sense, the viewer experience is very similar to traditional television.
STIRR was launched in January of 2019, and it began to take off even faster than Sinclair Broadcast Group executives had hoped. Industry analysts say that this trend is likely to continue. The platform has served so far largely as an auxiliary service to the roughly 200 local Sinclair television stations, but, in time, it could grow to become more independent.
STIRR got an unexpected boost because of pandemic conditions where the internet became a more popular destination for almost all kinds of content. However, analysts believe that the platform will continue to do well after the pandemic ends.
Companies like Netflix, Hulu, etc. have had plenty of success streaming content targeted at a national audience, but streaming content targeted at single metropolitan areas is pretty new. Sinclair is enjoying good viewer numbers so far, and they aren’t doing much marketing. In part, because they already have a proven product and a large audience, viewer attitudes appear to be overwhelmingly positive.
The new Sinclair Broadcast Group streaming services offer plenty of local news. Because the larger Sinclair organization is already producing this content consistently, it’s just been a question of the company reformatting and repurposing it for a digital market.
Furthermore, Sinclair Broadcast Group also streams national shows that are already running on local affiliates. Therefore, if a local terrestrial Sinclair television outlet is already broadcasting a popular nationwide game show, then it’s streamed for the same local audience. For Sinclair, this is a win-win situation because they’re just taking content they’ve already produced or purchased and getting it to more of their viewers with little overhead.
Additionally, Sinclair is producing content aimed at individual local markets. For example, an organization in Austin runs horse auctions, and they were spending a great deal of money advertising their events on social media. The local Sinclair executives saw what was happening, and they began producing a new and regular local show about these horse auctions. There was a built-in audience, and the shows are extremely popular.
Additionally, Sinclair Broadcast Group offers the same on-demand content on STIRR that it does elsewhere. Essentially, they want their viewers to have more options.
When Sinclair Broadcast Group analyzed the situation, they realized that the demand for streamed content was even greater in traditionally secondary markets such as Austin and Salt Lake City rather than normally larger markets including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They reacted accordingly and went above and beyond to target content for these markets. Perhaps this demand for streaming existed because traditional television is not always aimed at the audiences in smaller cities, so viewers are going online where they have more options.
In conclusion, what Sinclair Broadcast Group is doing shows that streaming is a different animal than traditional television, and it’s best not to think that all the old rules of marketing apply. Sinclair is doing what it’s always done, which is to discover markets that have been traditionally overlooked and providing them with the content they want.
Sinclair became the telecommunications powerhouse that it is today by spotting underserved markets, especially in the South and the Midwest, and creating programming that reflected the interests of the people in these areas. It seems pretty clear that they’re applying the same savvy marketing in the emerging streaming markets.
Sinclair is a diversified media company and leading provider of local sports and news. The Company owns and/or operates 23 regional sports network brands; owns, operates and/or provides services to 190 television stations in 88 markets; is a leading local news provider in the country; owns multiple national networks; and has TV stations affiliated with all the major broadcast networks. Sinclair’s content is delivered via multiple platforms, including over-the-air, multi-channel video program distributors, and digital platforms. The Company regularly uses its website as a key source of Company information which can be accessed at www.sbgi.net.
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