In July of 2014, the Sinclair Broadcast Group announced the launch of the American Sports Network (ASN), a college sports channel that would be broadcast on Sinclair’s stations. At launch they had deals in place with Conference USA, the Colonial Athletic Association, Big South, Southern Conference and Patriot League. The network launched in advance of the football season. The Sinclair Broadcast Group owns or operates over 150 stations in 70+markets across the nation. Sinclair announced at the end of September 2014 that they had expanded ASN syndication. The syndication agreements expanded distribution of ASN in to 67 non-Sinclair television markets. ASN is now available in over 83 million households for select games.
The American Sports Network is just about to start Year Two and has added additional rights to the Atlantic 10, Horizon League, Ivy League, Ohio Valley Conference and Western Athletic Conference. The collegiate events that ASN has broadcasted as a result of these agreements include football, men’s & women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s & women’s soccer, baseball, softball, women’s volleyball and men’s & women’s lacrosse.
In January, ASN acquired regional rights to Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer, an expansion in to the regional rights of a professional team for the first time. ASN will air non-national regular season matches for Real Salt Lake and will cover the cost of the productions as well. Sinclair was able to leverage their expansive syndication to broadcast the Real Salt Lake games to a larger audience than that Salt Lake TV market, which currently has less than a million homes. Instead ASN made the Real Salt Lake games available to more than 5 million homes in cities in fives states: Las Vegas, Boise, Reno, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Tucson. This gave Real Salt Lake the fourth largest distribution for their games on a regional level, trailing only New York City FC, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy.
In May, ASN reached an agreement with Minor League Baseball (MiLB) to televise a weekly game. This agreement will showcase 25 teams, 11 leagues and 20 Major League Baseball affiliates for a total of 15 games. Last year, MiLB struck a deal with CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) that saw the network broadcast 15 games over the course of the season, this year their deal is for only 10 games.
“We look at our new relationship with ASN as yet another way to expand the reach of Minor League Baseball beyond the ballpark,” said Michael Hand, Minor League Baseball CMO and President, MiLB Enterprises. “We have been a part of the sports landscape for more than a century and provided entertainment to millions of fans. We’re thrilled to bring the Minor League Baseball grassroots experience into more American homes and tell the incredible stories of our clubs while highlighting the commitment made to each community.”
Minor League Baseball has 240 teams in 19 leagues. ASN has found a niche producing content for regional or national distribution through their established vast Sinclair Broadcast Network. Their agreement with Minor League Baseball provides an avenue for more content in the future to fill out their calendar with live sports programming. This story is one to follow, as they continue to add partners and secure more rights to live content.