Sinclair Broadcast Group’s year-old over-the-top streaming service Stirr is adding a new channel that will focus on election news.
Stirr also plans to stream episodes of syndicated shows a day after they’re broadcast on Sinclair stations, starting later this quarter. The shows include Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. The shows will be available on a market-by-market basis on Stirr.
2020 Live, launching this week, will have continuous live coverage that will feature campaign events from around the country, including town hall meetings and stump speeches.
Sinclair said coverage will be presented without any commentary and will provide a bias-free view of the campaign trail.
The approach is a departure for Sinclair, which has been politically conservative and until recently compelled its stations to run political commentaries from Boris Epshteyn, a former aide to President Trump.
The controversial segments were discontinued on Dec. 13. At the time, Sinclair said it was shifting its emphasis away from political commentary in favor of investigating reporting.
“Stirr’s offering of live, local news content reflects that its purpose isn’t to solely entertain, but to serve members of local communities and provide information that impacts their lives,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley. “We’re incredibly proud of the growth and success the platform has seen throughout the year, and look forward to providing users with more value. With the addition of local broadcast TV syndication programming coming to the platform, we’re excited for what the next year has in store for Stirr.”
Sinclair’s reputation for pushing conservative views onto its stations was a concern among journalists at Tribune Broadcasting when Tribune agreed to be acquired by Sinclair. That deal fell through. Tribune was subsequently acquired by Nexstar Media.
Last week Nexstar announced plans to launch a three-hour, daily newscast on cable network WGN America that will originate in Chicago at WGN-TV, one of the Tribune stations acquired by Nexstar.
Sinclair launched Stirr a year ago with 24 channels. The company said Stirr, which is free to the consumer and ad supported, now offers 100 linear channels and more than 5,000 hours of VOD content.
The Stirr app has been downloaded more than 1.6 million times, the company said, and more than 130,000 hours of live, local news were streamed across Stirr City local channels in 2019.