Sinclair: Attracting Passionate Viewers Nationally

By Sinclair Broadcast Group InSites Archives
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One of the most challenging aspects of buying television nowadays is efficiently reaching an incredibly passionate audience. Sinclair Media Networks has a compelling proposition on that front. In its footprint of 200+ stations in over 100 markets (most of which are owned by Sinclair) they provide an audience base of engaged, loyal viewers that roll up into a national footprint. Sinclair Media Networks has built that into an advantage. "We have the broadcast impressions that agencies are always looking to buy," says Sinclair's Jon Spaet, Senior Vice President Network Sales.

"Sinclair is, and always has been, an entrepreneurial, creative, results-driven company," Spaet said. As one of the largest TV station groups in the country, the company decided to create a national network of opportunities for advertisers several years ago. "The opportunity we saw then to leverage our network for national brands is even more relevant today," he added.

"Broadcast TV, even considering the erosion that's been going on for a while, is still the best way to reach a mass audience, and for many advertisers it's still a big piece of their media plan," said Rich Donnelly, Associate Vice President of Sales. But there ia a problem, he noted. "How do advertisers deal with eroding audiences at the same time that networks demand increases in pricing?"

Sinclair's solution? "We take local inventory and put it together to make one national footprint that injects new and incremental rating points into the marketplace," he said.

And why are those new ratings points valuable to Sinclair? "Our focus is on adults 25-54 and 35+ because that's where the concentration of wealth is in the U.S." Spaet explained. "They watch our stations, they pay attention to ads, they spend."

The Sinclair Media Networks' proposition garners rating points on broadcast affiliates with "programming that everybody is familiar with and in a family friendly environment," Donnelly noted. "And we bring it with efficiencies. It solves one problem that all the buyers have each year." Sinclair calls this a "boutique" approach. "We don't want to be everything to everybody," he continued. "We're not going to be a big box store. We want to be the boutique on the corner. When you come in, we know your face. We know what you want. We know what you're looking to buy. We know exactly your size and we'll tailor it to your satisfaction."

The transactions involve a select group of advertisers because the inventory is limited, but Sinclair prides itself on its guarantee to air and deliver audience estimates.

"We have inventory that is essentially a diversified portfolio of broadcast assets that includes digital extensions to our linear platforms," Spaet noted. "For example, we can partner with our CompulseOTT group, which is an advanced over-the-top television video ad delivery platform."

Sinclair is advancing into all types of digital access, including the recent introduction of Flowcode which, according to Spaet, is like "QR codes on steroids. It's a best-in-class custom digital offering that can be inserted into our broadcast programming or client ads to instantly connect our viewers to mobile landing pages with real time data. Flowcodes can also help Sinclair better understand users beyond Nielsen's measurement."

Another advantage that Sinclair has in the media marketplace is benefiting from viewers' passion for its local news. People bond with local anchors, Spaet said. "We are aggregating those local news ratings that are increasingly in demand today and selling it as a network," he explained. "And if we want to extend our vast reach digitally, we can tap into our Sinclair product, NewsON, the leading streaming service for local TV news in the U.S.

"We have research that shows that 60% of our local news audiences don't watch any of the cable news networks because they're using it for a whole different reason," he continued. "Local broadcast is a much more trusted news environment."

"The way people use the local news is much different than what they look for from national services," Donnelly asserted. "It's about weather, traffic, how the local sports teams are doing, what's going on in the local mayors' races." He noted that the pandemic heightened interest in local news, as people tuned in to see where COVID-19 was spiking. "It became more and more important, and I think that that will continue," he said.

Sinclair's strategy for the Upfront and beyond is to "power our message of delivering the broadcast impressions that people are always looking to buy with our successful 'boutique' sales approach," he continued. "That approach by our team engages media buyers in a way that is just as customized and efficient as the media we sell them. Our positioning of having a full national footprint of broadcast impressions in a family-friendly, brand-safe environment and with efficiencies will be important. It was important last year. It's going to become more important next year, and I think in the foreseeable future. That's why we have a really high 90-95% renewal rate every year. We expect that to continue."

Spaet agreed. "For every Upfront we've done, we consistently sell a high percentage of our inventory during this key sales season," he concluded. "It's worked for our client partners because they get our curated, best-in-class broadcast programming at the price they need."

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