Sinclair Broadcast Group plans to start a streaming TV service called STIRR that would include round-the-clock local news and national programming, BuzzFeed reported Tuesday.
Such a service could allow the Hunt Valley broadcaster to better compete with cable channels such as Fox News, said the report, citing sources familiar with the project and a trademark application. It described the service as a free streaming app that also would offer additional live and on-demand programming such as TV shows, movies and sports.
A Sinclair spokeswoman did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
More media companies have moved to offer internet streaming as pay-TV audiences decline, one analyst said.
“It seems to me the news is the next frontier in these types of offerings,” said Tuna Amobi, CFRA Research senior analyst. “Consumers more and more are looking for news on the go. Mobile is going to be a big part of this motivation.”
If Sinclair ends up launching such a service, “It can be a differentiator for them, when you consider traditional TV viewership of news is in decline because consumers have more and more choices to access the news,” Amobi said.
Questions remain about whether Sinclair would launch a subscription- or advertising-based service and how much of an investment in content and technology would be needed to ramp up such a service, he said.
The BuzzFeed report comes as Sinclair, already the nation’s largest owner or operator of local TV stations, awaits regulatory approval of its planned $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media. The deal, as originally proposed, would give Sinclair control of 233 TV stations, including 42 Tribune-owned stations, and a presence in such top markets as New York and Chicago.
Under that proposal, Sinclair stations would reach 72 percent of U.S TV households. (Tribune Media was formerly part of Tribune Co., which once owned The Baltimore Sun and other newspapers, but spun them off in 2014.)In April, Sinclair announced plans to sell 23 stations after the merger as part of its bid to win approval of federal regulators.
The deal has come under fire from groups that say they are worried about the loss of diverse voices in the broadcast industry, a concern heightened by Sinclair’s conservative leanings.
The BuzzFeed report on Tuesday also said Fox News plans to launch a paid streaming service, Fox Nation, by the end of the year featuring exclusive content from Fox personalities.
The Daily Caller had reported earlier this month that Sinclair is launching a new platform that would “modernize the cable industry” and compete with internet streaming services. That report said the platform was made possible by a new broadcast standard, known as ATSC 3.0, that combines over-the-air TV broadcasting with over-the-top internet streaming, allowing viewers to be on the go while receiving data and accessing services such as Amazon Prime and Netflix.
In a February 2017 interview with The Baltimore Sun, Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley said broadcast television was poised to transform the way it reaches viewers under the shift to that new transmission standard, known as Next Generation TV and long backed by Sinclair. He said it would provide over-the-air, high-definition broadcasts to mobile devices. Sinclair expects the new system will enable a broader and more customized reach for viewers and advertisers.