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Volume 26 No. 181
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Sinclair CEO Ripley Talks RSNs Sale Process, Future Of Company

Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley does not believe his company would have ended up landing the 21 Fox-branded RSN for the $9.6B it paid if another media conglomerate "had been in the running," according to CABLEFAX DAILY. Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley on Thursday said, "If any one of those five other buyers had been in the process, you would have seen a price much more in line with what we thought early on in the process." The "intense media scrutiny of the sale didn't help matters." Ripley said, "It was literally in the paper every day. If I was Disney and I had a choice, I would have pulled the sale. It's very hard to run an effective sale process if everyone knows what everyone else is doing." Ripley "gives credit" to the Cubs and the Yankees for "helping Sinclair enter" the RSN space. Ripley said that the Marquee Sports Network collaboration with the Cubs "paid Sinclair's 'tuition in the industry' and helped lead to Sinclair being part of a consortium with the Yankees and Amazon for YES Network." More than 75% of Sinclair's revenue is "now from sports and news, something the company 'could not even imagine' five years ago." The focus for Sinclair now is "integrating the RSNs into its overall portfolio and growth opportunities." Sinclair is "pushing a slate of 20 growth initiatives around OTT and sports-betting, with Ripley believing gambling is going to change the way people consume sports 'forever'" (CABLEFAX.com, 9/27).

BLAZING ITS PATH: In Chicago, Jeff Agrest notes Marquee is "in the midst" of sorting out distribution deals, though with "roughly four months until launch, there probably won't be much to report for a while." Sources "don't believe" the Cubs missing the playoffs this year will "affect Marquee's ability to sell itself." If the network "does have problems, it'll be because of changes in the TV ecosystem, such as cord-cutting and skinny bundles." If price "becomes the sticking point -- as it usually does -- Marquee could follow the lead" of FS1, which launched in '13. The network had "significant distribution problems just before it went live, but rather than fight for fees on many fronts, FS1 decided to just get on the air and make a name for itself." Marquee "might be best-served taking less now and getting its signal spread as wide as possible." It could "renegotiate later once the channel is established among viewers" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/27).