Sinclair Broadcast Group Adds to Content Portfolio with TBD Channel Launch

tbd logo
Courtesy of TBD

Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group has been on a mission during the past year to leverage the muscle of its vast TV station group to create programming assets that extend far beyond local news and sports.

Sinclair this week announced plans to launch a digital multicast network, dubbed TBD, early next year that will feature an array of made-for-Internet content from a variety of providers. It’s akin to curating an MCN-style feed for a linear TV channel. The channel promises to serve up a mix of web series, short films and short-form content involving fashion, comedy, lifestyle, eSports and music, all curated by the Dublin-based video aggregation service QYOU. Sinclair said TBD will have a digital streaming component as well.

“Our recent focus has been on expanding our business with new digital multicast networks that leverage our broadcast spectrum and household reach,” said Chris Ripley, who was named president-CEO of Sinclair in November. “With the launch of TBD, we aim to pair the very best premium digital-first content with the unmatched branding power of traditional television.”

TBD is an effort to draw a younger audience to Sinclair’s stations, using the multicast option that allows its broadcast TV stations to offer additional channels beyond the mothership network-affiliated stations. Most of the multicast channels launched to date by broadcast stations and Hollywood studios have focused on vintage programming or niche audiences such as the African-American-focused Bounce TV. TBD is an effort to draw a younger crowd that is drawn to nontraditional content. The channel’s partners through QYOU include Jukin Media, Legendary Digital Networks (home of Nerdist & Geek and Sundry), Whistle Sports, Kinonation, Zoomin’ and Canvas Media Studios.

Plans for the launch of TBD follow the launch in late 2015 of Comet, a digital multicast network devoted to sci-fi movies and TV shows. Sinclair’s vast TV station holdings — 173 stations serving 81 markets, or just under 40% of U.S. TV households — provide the core distribution for the multicast channels, and they are also sold syndication-style to station owners in non-Sinclair markets.

In January, Sinclair acquired the Tennis Channel for $350 million. The broadcast group was immediately able to use its negotiating clout with cable operators to drive better distribution deals for the indie cabler. Sinclair also has programming services devoted to regional college sports (American Sports Network) and wrestling (Ring of Honor) that air on its stations and in syndication.

The activity of the past year reflects a “strategic mandate for us to own more content,” said Scott Shapiro, Sinclair’s VP of corporate development. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking to do things a little bit differently. We’re trying to draw a bigger pool of audience.”

The TBD model was attractive to Sinclair because many of the digital content producers are already adept at working with brands to help monetize the programming. TBD  Sinclair’s channel portfolio, Shapiro said.

“Why not marry the power of television with what we find to be very compelling content,” Shapiro said. “This is different from what you might see on Comet or Tennis Channel. There’s a lot of interesting (programs) happening out there. There’s a lot of interesting vehicles we intend to explore.”

The streaming component of TBD will have more interactive elements built-in to the programming, Shapiro said.

Shapiro cited food- and travel-related programming as potential new verticles for Sinclair to explore.

The heightened activity around programming comes as Ripley takes taken the president-CEO reins from David Smith, the son of Sinclair founder Julian Smith. Smith had served as CEO since 1991. Ripley joined the company in 2014 as chief financial officer after a 12-year career as an investment banker with UBS’ Global Media Group.

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  1. Dan Gillespie says:

    Really agree with Todd here, they need to drop this and go back to the grit channel.

  2. Todd M says:

    This new channel SUX BIG ONES!!! PUT GRIT BACK ON!!! At least the shows had meaning and not nonsense like this BS.. It also honored pur vets at times. This truly SUX!!!

  3. Jane E. Fogg says:

    Your channel stinks and I’m not the only one that thinks so. Get T v was a great station with great televison shows for the young and old. Alot of adults like myself who have worked hard for years and are now retired earned the right to relax during the day and watch good tv shows and like myself babysitting grandkids. Your show belongs one place on You Tube on the internet not on tv where young can see the language is filth and also the videos other countries might like this but not our country even young have said they where deleting the channel. It’s stupid and makes no sense probably the only people that understand our high on drugs. So why take it off and bring back Get TV before you go bankrupt on it from people cancelling it out.

  4. Sarah says:

    It is one thing to add a channel but taking away THIS TV means I won’t be watching your station as much. No I’m not young but I’m young at Heart. I’m in Eugene, Oregon.

  5. SternKingofmedia says:

    TBD channel is swill that leaks from garbage. Bring back Thistv. Whoever keeps changing these channels are dopes.

  6. John Jackson says:

    I am an older guy and I think TBD is great. The way to stay young is by staying up to date with what the younger generations like. I used to search youtube for this stuff, now TBD finds stuff for me. And I still have GET-TV. It never was on the Sinclair channel here in upstate NY. Grit was no loss. That same guy was on all day and night. CHARGE-TV has a great line-up of excellent action and adventure movies from the 1940’s to the 1990’s with lots of famous actors. If you want more westerns, go to ME TV every afternoon. Also, local channels can add as many subchannels as they want. We have 28 subchannels on 8 main channels. If your local channel took something away, don’t blame Sinclair. Go buy a $10 antenna because some of the subchannels aren’t on cable.

  7. Get-tv and grit-tv were great alternatives to these outrageously high cable and satalite prices.
    we have hundreds of “over the air” viewers who have dropped cable and satalite aervice because
    we had these two channels to watch. Who in the HECK is running Sinclair Broadcasting?????

  8. the same for the other channel called “CHARGE” that replaced GRIT-TV. I want these channels back
    these replacement channels are WORTHLESS!!!

  9. Jb8517 says:

    TBD is a TOTAL and useless channel. Made for the brain-dead masses. When I flipped through all I’d see was skateboarders and guys making reverse slam dunks. Deleted it.

  10. Mattie Roberts says:

    This has got to be the worse move…from get TV to TBD TV…No one likes it…it has the worse programs… millennials had to influence this decision…but they don’t watch TV…we are pleasing with Sinclair to reconsider…WORSE TV EVER

  11. Sinclair, I sincerely cant believe that you think these channels have any intellectual value at all…….
    oh maybe to these “mindless” millinials I guess. Theyre busy running around with their
    tablets and smart phones buried in their faces to notice the real worth of get-tv and grit-tv
    programing. Get real, add these channels back and you will gain thousands of valuable
    viewers back.

  12. glen edwards says:

    tbd tv is the worst cable channel i have ever scene i loved get tv now my westerns are gone great movies are all gone please i beg you take this channel tbd tv off and bring back get tv p.s i will just bet a lot of other feel the same way

    • Man I agree . this channel is the worts
      But I guess , this viewer base that they are trying to reach, doesnt take much to entertain them
      Gettv was replaced here in Okla also. I hope Sinclair is proud of themselves
      shows how much they truly care about their viewers.

  13. Mark Dish says:

    Your articles about television are great.

  14. Bas says:

    I love your articles Cynthia.

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