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Sinclair launches ad-supported streaming TV service

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Sinclair launches ad-supported streaming TV service

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. launched an ad-supported national streaming service that combines local news and content from various programming genres.

The streaming service, named STIRR, will offer access to 20 national networks at launch, including NASA TV, FailArmy, CONtv, according to a Jan. 16 news release. The service will offer users a variety of other live and on-demand programming, including sports and a 24/7 TV channel featuring local news and national programming.

Sinclair developed several original channels for the service at launch, including STIRR Movies. Sinclair expects to add more than 50 new linear networks by the end of the year.

STIRR's launch follows the Jan.15 announcement that Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal Media LLC will debut an ad-supported streaming service in early 2020 that will be available to Comcast's U.S.video customers, as well as to SKY subscribers. The NBCU service, featuring content from TV and film franchises and third-party fare, will also be available to non-pay TV customers for a subscription fee.

Amazon.com Inc.'s IMDb movie website also recently launched IMDb Freedive, a free, ad-supported video-streaming channel that offers a range of TV shows and films. Apple Inc. is expected to launch a streaming service this year, and Walt Disney Co. and AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia are both slated to jump into the direct-to-consumer arena with broad offerings in the fourth quarter.

STIRR General Manager Adam Ware said in an interview that various streaming services are "doing different things, but not much in the way of local." STIRR will leverage Sinclair's strength in local TV markets by offering viewers more coverage about "their teams, the issues that concern them, their forecasts, food and music in their area," Ware said.

He said STIRR will serve up more content from feature stories that appear on stations' broadcasts, or provide coverage of live events like car chases or press conferences. In turn, the streaming service will benefit from on-air promos and talent guiding viewers to STIRR.

From an advertising perspective, Ware said Sinclair controls all the commercials on STIRR, including the inventory on the national networks. In exchange for their content offerings, those providers will be compensated from an advertising revenue-sharing relationship.

Consumers can access STIRR through iOS and Android devices, Amazon FireTV, Apple TV, Roku and via the service's dedicated website.

Sinclair announced the leadership team for STIRR in 2018. Ben Lister was named director of content acquisitions and business development, while Adam Ware and Stacie Anthony were appointed general manager and editor-in-chief, respectively.