Sinclair Acquires "Ring of Honor" Wrestling Franchise
BALTIMORE == Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI), the "Company" or "Sinclair," announced today that it has acquired the "Ring of Honor" wrestling (ROH) franchise. Ring of Honor is the third largest wrestling promotion in the country.
"We are very excited about this acquisition," commented Steve Marks, COO of Sinclair's Television Group. "Television and professional wrestling have a long history of successful partnerships and driving viewership. Unfortunately, the broadcast networks have not protected that relationship, allowing professional wrestling to migrate to cable network distribution. We believe that the powerful promotional platform that our TV stations provide, coupled with our 22% coverage of the U.S. TV households, will allow ROH to achieve name brand recognition and grow its share of the wrestling market. When you consider the make-up of our station mix and the number of CW, MYTV and FOX affiliates we operate, this is a perfect fit for our viewer demographics."
Mr. Marks continued, "We believe that ROH will provide us with multiple revenue opportunities. In addition to the advertising component, there are product sponsorships, Internet pay-per-view, live wrestling tour events, and sales of DVDs and other merchandise. Longer-term, we can envision syndicating ROH wrestling to broadcasters in markets where Sinclair does not have a presence and even internationally. We believe there are opportunities to broadcast ROH wrestling on our secondary tier channels or in a mobile environment. The acquisition also means less syndicated product that we will be required to purchase, and since we own the franchise, we control how many times, which dayparts and on which affiliates we want to air the matches without having the limitation on the number of runs or license fee costs."
"We have been waiting and working for this opportunity for quite some time," commented Cary Silkin, owner of ROH. "Of our 9 years in business, there has been no better roster of wrestlers than this one to expose the ROH product to the masses. 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."
This September, Ring of Honor will debut on Sinclair's network of broadcast television stations, and with it, will become the only wrestling promotion in the United States with a major, multi-market presence on broadcast TV. "But if you don't live in a market with a Sinclair station, fear not," says Mr. Silkin. "Through our website, we will be able to make the TV show available to anyone in the world with internet access."
ROH will be headed by Joe Koff, Chief Operating Officer of Ring of Honor. Mr. Koff, who has been with Sinclair since 2003 and most recently served as Director of Sales, has a long established career in television broadcasting sales and management, as well as managing wrestling content. Mr. Koff was responsible for personally creating, producing, marketing, syndicating, and selling barter inventory in what was to become "The Battle of the Belts I, II, III." "Battle of the Belts," which ran three consecutive seasons from 1985-1987, was considered breakthrough programming in its time. Mr. Koff syndicated the first ever, live, prime-time wrestling event and negotiated the international rights for the initial programming.
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