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PRESIDENT & CEO OF SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP COMMENTS ON STATE OF RING OF HONOR, HOW IT IS VIEWED BY SINCLAIR

By Mike Johnson on 2018-11-07 17:02:00

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of Ring of Honor, issues their third quarter earnings for 2018 today.  During a stockholders call today, Ring of Honor was brought up by analyst Aaron Watts, while asking about investments the company has made, noting, "I think, somewhat unique from some of your peers, you've put a lot of money to work in non-local content initiatives via Tennis Channel, college football, wrestling. As you said today, can you maybe give us your vantage point on how you would say those investments are working out versus maybe your initial expectations? And, do those experiences affect your mindset about acquiring more content platforms of a similar vein going forward, you're obviously sitting on a lot of cash in an enviable position on that front. So, just curious about that that experience."

Ripley responded:

"Sure. So, look I think saying that we've invested a lot of money is maybe a slight mischaracterization. Beyond Tennis, we really haven't spent significant dollars on content and Ring of Honor, I think, we bought for a couple hundred thousand dollars. And it's, we think that's an unpolished gem that ultimately should be something in the same light as WWE. We actually sold out Madison Square Gardens for an event next year in 11 minutes. So, we know that that that brand has potential. It just – it hasn't, we haven't quite found the right dials to turn yet, but we keep increasing the grass roots support on it and it has just a very, very loyal and avid fan base which is what you really need to explode a brand.

And on the syndicated side, we have we've been smart about investments there, using our leverage to not only reduce our costs there but also get equity positions in various – or equity like positions in various programs with little-to-no capital. So that's been a very profitable endeavor for us. And then on Tennis, which we did spend a decent chunk of change buying, it was a net price of $285 million and further investments in Tennis.com and Tennis magazine and you probably just saw that we signed up the WTA for a five-year deal and we've also expanded other rights in other categories, like the French Open where we put more premium matches on our air and then also revamped our OTT app.

So, it's been an investment period for Tennis and Tennis is setting up exceptionally well for future growth with 2020 will be the breakout year for Tennis in a big way. And that'll be the year where we sit back and look and say, wow, we really – all this work and investment that we put in has paid off in spades as 2020 looks to be a huge year for Tennis.

So, I guess, the overall question to your answer is when I look across what we've done in content, we're in varying stages of development, but we've always had a good return on everything we've done, but I wouldn't say that we've spent all that much risk capital when you consider the scale of the company overall.'

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