The owner of more than 60 local TV stations that saw its stock hammered after this week’s stunning news of a joint venture to create a sports bundle slammed Wall Street investors for overreacting.
EW Scripps CEO Adam Symson, who saw the company’s stock sink more than 27% after Fox, Disney and Warner Bros Discovery announced the standalone service Wednesday, played down the impact it will have on local affiliates.
“Affiliates are going to be compensated for being carried along,” Symson told CNBC.
“It’s not the efficient bundle Wall Street is making it out to be.”
Scripps owns 18 ABC stations, in markets such as Phoenix, Detroit, Cleveland and Tampa, and four Fox stations among its 66 outlets.
Symson told CNBC that he was given assurances by ABC parent Disney that content on the local channels will be included in the so-called skinny bundle.
Other major local TV station owners including TEGNA and Sinclair also saw their stock plunge.
Sinclair — which operates roughly 200 stations nationwide including the Tennis Channel — dropped 12% Wednesday, and is down nearly 9% for the week.
TEGNA, owner of 68 TV including the True Crime Network, was down nearly 7% since the news broke.
Symson said the reaction was overblown because investors appear to be forgetting that local ABC and Fox affiliates will be part of the new, skinnier cable bundle of sports networks that is still set to include ESPN, TNT and Fox.
“Wall Street acted like this was a sea change product,” Symson told CNBC.
“I don’t take issue with the opportunity or the idea that there’s value here. But take March Madness. You’re only going to have access to TBS and TNT, but not CBS.”
The yet-to-be named service, which will launch in the fall, will work collaboratively with all local broadcast affiliate partners in a similar manner to other digital multichannel bundlers, such as YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV, CNBC reported, citing to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.
The forthcoming venture also won’t include NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” or NFL games airing on CBS, which this year will broadcast the Super Bowl.
Symson said that viewers won’t be satisfied with a partial offering.
“People don’t want to go to a buffet where half the steam trays are missing,” Symson said, per CNBC.
Consumers who plan to purchase the new bundle can expect to get their local news and sports from ABC and Fox, per CNBC.
Representatives for Scripps did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
The new package is anticipated to be somewhere north of $40 a month, though it will still fall short of the full breadth of sports coverage available on cable.
Robert Thompson, the trustee professor of television, radio and film at the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, said that the price point could mean that cable TV isn’t doomed.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the final nail in the coffin of pay television,” Thompson told The Post on Thursday.
“If you start adding it up and you like sports, you’ll pay at least $40 for the service but you’re still going to want to watch the NFL games that are not on the platform,” he added. “You’re going to want them one way or another.”