Sinclair adds 2.4M over-the-air households via affiliate deals with Nexstar, Entravision, Gray

Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding its over-the-air (OTA) footprint, announcing Monday it has inked new affiliate agreements for its Comet, Charge! and TBD networks. The distribution will see Sinclair add 2.4 million TV households by the end of the second quarter this year.

Sinclair’s over-the-air viewers will be able to watch the three networks across nine new DMAs. Charge!, which airs crime dramas like “Without a Trace” and “Elementary,” will be affiliated with stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Colorado Springs, Knoxville, San Angelo, Texas and the Hartford-New Haven DMA.

Comet, home to classic sci-fi series like “The X-Files” and “Stargate SG-1,” will be broadcast on Colorado Spring’s KGHB station. Whereas TBD, which is geared towards unscripted content, will launch in stations in Phoenix, San Diego as well as in the Lubbock and Odessa, Texas, DMAs.

All told, Sinclair said it has added 17 million OTA households since the start of 2022. New affiliate stations come from agreements with Nexstar Media Group, Gray and TelevisaUnivision-affiliated Entravision. Sinclair noted last October that Comet, Charge! and TBD were among the company’s fastest growing digital broadcast networks in Q3 2022.

“These affiliate additions are a continuation of the distribution and ratings momentum that began in 2022, as we moved into new DMAs or upgraded coverage within the networks’ existing local broadcast affiliate footprints,” stated Adam Ware, SVP of Sinclair’s Growth Networks Group. “As viewers continue to watch less cable TV, we’re excited Comet, Charge! and TBD will be available to an additional 2.4 million viewers across the country.”

Sinclair is also a major proponent of NextGen TV. As of last October, it’s launched ATSC 3.0 broadcasting technology in 34 markets. The main benefit of ATSC 3.0, according to Sinclair Chief Innovation Officer Scott Ehrlich, is that broadcasters can leverage some of the benefits of streaming, such as one-to-one interaction with viewers, while retaining the audience levels that come with linear.

Similarly, Todd Achilles, CEO of the now-shuttered Evoca TV, told Fierce last May that ATSC 3.0 is essentially OTA converged with streaming and OTT elements. He estimated OTA viewership is increasing 3-4% per year, while cable and satellite viewers are declining.

The broadcast industry has been pushing for full adoption of the ATSC 3.0 standard. Last month, the National Association of Broadcasters urged the FCC to vocalize their support for NextGen TV by forming a task force that focuses on "our shared concerns about viewers losing access to television signals.” The NAB said it wanted viewers to receive free OTA signals before, during and after the NextGen TV transition.