Sources tell FTVLive that Sinclair's effort to homogenize local sports as they've done local news appears to be coming to an end.
The staff at "American Sports" based at WPEC in West Palm Beach was called together to a mandatory staff meeting and told their roles were eliminated.
Sinclair will cease operations of the fledgling sports operation at the end of the month resulting in many questions around the national subchannel as well as their local sports coverage on Sinclair stations. Newsroom, production and master control teams will all be impacted.
ASN attempted to provide live sports coverage to local affiliates across the country. While the network was extremely successful in securing access on the airwaves their content failed to register with viewers, turning in some abysmal ratings. The network’s production quality was quite poor and featured less than marquee events as they were not able to meet the capital demands for top-tier events when matched against competitors such as ESPN and Fox Sports. ASN also failed to provide an efficient streaming service that could match the offerings of other networks which likely provided a huge hit to their distribution due to the cord-cutting nature of entertainment consumers in 2017.
Broadcasting various sports from the American Athletic Conference, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Hockey, Big South Conference, Big Ten (Hockey), Colonial Athletic Association, Conference USA, ECAC, Hocket East, Horizon League, Ivy League, MAC, NCHC, Ohio Valley Conference, Patriot League, Southern Conference, Southland Conference, Sun Belt Conference, Western Athletic Conference, and WCHA, the ASN provided coverage for countless Group of Five programs.
The contract situation moving forward from ASN’s shuttering is hazy. Per Matt Sarzyniak, the network’s dismantling could open the door for other start up networks to pick up the rights to various events. If FTV Live’s sources are correct, Campus Insiders could stand to gain the most from ASN’s dismantlement.
ASN had multiple year agreements with many of their college properties. I don't know if those become null and void or if Campus Insiders would be required to pick up all existing deals or be able to pick and choose what they want. Also don't know how many of these agreements would be expiring at the end of the current athletic year in June. By phrasing them as multi-year, you don't always get a good sense of the length outside of the length being at least two athletic years.
Some of these agreements weren't with conferences, but with ESPN to sublicense events from at least three conferences (American, MAC and Sun Belt). ASN wasn't necessarily known to be paying big, or any, rights fees.
Campus Insiders produces really great content and thanks to their online-only focus, they’re pretty future proof when it comes to content distribution and mobile solutions. CI helped to pioneer the rise of live broadcasts on Twitter and will likely continue to innovate in that space.
Matt also raises an intriguing proposition in his blog post; perhaps Campus Insiders would be willing to partner with beIN Sports to develop exceptional live sports content that would then be shared with beIN subscribers? It seems like a mutually beneficial deal as beIN is seeking to expand their content portfolio in the United States while Campus Insiders would clearly benefit from their brand and production being delivered directly into folks’ homes, sports bar, etc.
With Conference USA’s future television contract negotiations approaching this news may drastically change the framework of that impending contract. C-USA had worked very closely with ASN in the past but also experimented with beIN Sports last season, a move that I felt was extremely successful despite low ratings. The dissolution of ASN may just be the nudge C-USA needs to dive in head first with an aggressive gamble on beIN Sports.
While the future of the events set to be broadcast on ASN remains unclear, it’s hard to imagine the conferences that partnered with ASN will be shedding many tears over the network’s liquidation. I will be extremely shocked if any games end up not being broadcasted due to this change however, several will likely only be available through online sources— arguably not a huge problem in this day and age. If the cards fall right these conferences could end up in a much better situation with a broadcasting partner that provides a substantially improved product. Stick with us as we’ll continue to monitor this situation throughout the summer.