Giant Sinclair Broadcast Group is jumping into streaming with Stir, which combines content from a variety of national linear services, on-demand programming, and local channel with material from the company’s stations.
Consumers can access the free, ad supported service by downloading an app available for Apple and Android devices, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV and Roku. Consumers are asked to pick their home market for local news, sports and lifestyle programming on a new 24-hour Stirr City channel.
Other channel created for the streaming service including Stirr Movies, Stirr Sports and Stirr Life.
In addition to the Stirr channels, the app offer more than 20 national networks at launch, including streaming channels and multicast channels seeking greater distribution. Among the networks available are Buzzr, Cheddar, Comet, Dust, NASA TV, Stadium, The T and World Poker Tour. Sinclair owns or has stakes in several of the channels.
TV companies have been jumping into the streaming business as more consumer cut the cord and seek entertainment from digital sources. Early streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime will also be facing competition from upcoming entries from The Walt Disney Co., AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal.
“We are entering a new era of broadcast television and our number one priority at Sinclair is to help advance the industry and increase access to broadcast content in the midst of a digital age,” said Sinclair CEO Christopher Ripley. “With the launch of STIRR, we intend to offer audiences an easy, convenient and free way to watch live local and national channels, as well access a deep selection of on-demand programming.”
Stirr was created to take advantage of the cord-cutting and cord shaving trend that has led to increased viewing via over-the-top and a spike in advertisers looking to reach over-the-top viewers, said Adam Ware, general manager of Stirr.
Sinclair isn’t alone trying to cash in on the OTT opportunity.
“This space is moving very quickly. Far more quickly than people estimated a couple of years ago. And driving that is in part how fast cord-cutting is happening,” Ware said. “You have all these brands who have all tried to take advantage of OTT. Some have done it really well, some not so well. Some didn't do it at all,”
Ware expects a consolidation to come to the space. “You go back to the original questions,” he said. “Do you have a loyal enough audience, a definable audience? How good is your products and how much are you charging?
Sinclair has advantages in having its own streaming platform, dubbed Hummingbird,’ and multiple ads sales unit to monetize viewership.In addition to the advertising sales teams at its stations, last year, Sinclair rebranded its digital advertising unit as Compulse. It also partly owns Zypmedia, which does programmatic advertising.
Another thing Sinclair uniquely brings to the streaming party is the promotion its stations can generate. “It’s a priority for the stations, so it’s being treated that way,” Ware said. “We;ll get promotion within the newscasts as well because this is not that dissimilar from promotion your weather app.”
Ware says Sinclair will be running its stations’ local newscasts on the local Stirr City channels. That leaves other dayparts to program, including primetime and late night. “All of a sudden we have these dayparts available to us.”
And those dayparts are available in a big part of the country.
“I’m not even remotely saying that this is the launch of a TV network,” Ware said. “But what I am implying is it sure has some of the important parts of being able to take advantage of all these local affiliates all over the country.”
Here is the full list of channels available on Stirr:
The Pet Collective
World Poker Tour
" We are incredibly excited to distribute Stadium via Stirr's impressive platform", said Stadium CEO Jason Coyle. "We believe that the combination of Stadium's national sports programming lineup along with localized Sinclair station coverage will create a compelling sports experience for an important audience segment."