Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. has acquired wrestling franchise Ring of Honor and plans to start airing the original television wrestling match programs on its network of stations in September, the Hunt Valley broadcaster said Monday.
Besides producing weekly TV programs, Ring of Honor also stages live events around the country for a pay-per-view audience. The TV programs will be broadcast on CW, MYTV and Fox affiliates that are owned or operated by Sinclair.
Sinclair's 22 percent coverage of U.S. TV households will help the franchise boost its name brand recognition while giving Sinclair revenue from advertising, product sponsorships, Internet pay-per-view, live events and merchandise sales, such as DVDs, said Steve Marks, chief operating officer of Sinclair's television group. Owning the franchise gives Sinclair the advantage of controlling how many times and on which affiliates to air the matches, Marks said.
Sinclair did not disclose financial terms of the deal. Marci Ryvicker, a senior analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, said in a research report Monday that Sinclair likely acquired the franchise for an "immaterial amount," estimated at less than $10 million.
"Based on our conversations, investors are not comfortable with an acquisition outside of SBGI's (or any TV company's) 'core business' but we actually view ROH (Ring of Honor) as a unique opportunity that could benefit SBGI's primary operations (i.e. advertising)," the report said. It noted that programming costs could decline because Sinclair will need to fill fewer syndicated hours.
The company hopes to eventually move production of the shows from Lexington, Ky., to a studio in the Baltimore area, said David Amy, Sinclair's chief financial officer.
"With Sinclair's resources and many avenues of distribution, we believe many new fans will be as captivated as those who have followed Ring of Honor over the years," said Cary Silkin, owner of the franchise, who will stay on in an advisory role.