An ROH TV Channel is Not a Pipe Dream

Sinclair Broadcasting Group has been developing several new networks over the last few years. As an ROH fan, you’ve likely heard about Comet TV but there have been more.

In addition to airing ROH on Comet TV, the primary focus of the channel is the re-airing of well known (and often lesser known) sci-fi shows and movies. Additionally, there is the American Sports Network, in which Sinclair offers no rights fees but provides “exposure” to lower profile college sports teams to air their shows on the station. Charge! TV, launched in partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) offers old action movies  TBD shows programming that is (very arguably) “the best of web”.

You may have never heard of, or seen, most of these networks. Don’t worry. Many people have not. With some limited cable carriage and programming block exceptions, these networks are delivered via over the air digital sub channels. You wouldn’t know you have them unless you have a TV antenna, scan for the channels you have access to or seek out these channels. Even when it appears that you should have one of these channels based on your market, your antenna has to be able to pick it up (according to Comet TV, my area should have access to the station but I do not receive the signal).

At the moment, many networks have 3 or 4 digital sub-channels per network. Sinclair has been investing in a technology called ATSC 3.0. They hope this will be a new broadcast standard. If this becomes widely used, a network can increase digital-sub channels from the current 3 or 4 to 20.

With most of their sub-channels, Sinclair has to split the revenue with the content providers (such as MGM). With the rapid role out of these digital sub channels, I am going to go out on a limb and assume that these stations are cash positive (as they are basically turn-key with almost no new content being provided outside of live sports) and that if ATSC 3.0 becomes the industry standard, Sinclair will want to utilize the other 15-16 sub channels.

All of that leads us to Ring of Honor. With SBG already owning the rights to 15 years of pro wrestling content, it could easily fill up a 24 hour pro wrestling network schedule with limited time spent to prepare the programming for broadcast. Likely, anything created after SBG acquired ROH would be ready to be programmed into the station. Pre-SBG ROH would need editing of music rights and possible “offensive” programming that wouldn’t be appropriate for over the air broadcast.

Utilizing a signal that Sinclair owns with content that Sinclair owns is a nearly risk free endeavor for Sinclair. How much money could a station like this make? I couldn’t speculate. I would guess most of the commercials would be made up of the variety you’d see in the middle of the night on cable. There would also be the opportunity to grow revenue for the ROH brand such as promoting local shows in the market, merchandise and pay-per-views.

The channel would likely be turn-key: no live specials and no fancy editing. In programming the channel, SBG could get off to a good start with themed nights for the first week or two. Imagine a launch week of nights featuring Daniel Bryan, Tyler Black, CM Punk, Kevin Steen, AJ Styles, Hardy’s and Samoa Joe?

Lavie Margolin is a Career Coach and author of Mastering the Job Interview. He has been a professional wrestling fan since 1988 and has attended ROH shows regularly since 2004.

All comments here are speculative and for entertainment purposes only and no misrepresentation of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Ring of Honor or related brands is intended. Full disclosure: I am a Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG) shareholder.