TruTV adds a nightly sports block with new programming and big games

Warner Bros. wants Discovery is bringing one of its “zombie” cable networks back to life with a slew of sports.

The media company intends to create a new nightly sports block for TruTV, the cable network for reality series that has been largely left to show endless episodes of the popular prank show “Impractical Jokers” and the on-camera series “World's Dumbest.” ” In doing so, Warner no doubt hopes to create new value where there was little. The new sports schedule will likely attract broader viewership and new advertising dollars to the network, and may incentivize cable distributors to give the outlet greater value in future carriage contracts .

The sports schedule will not only consist of simulcasts of NHL, MLB and NBA games typically shown on the company's flagship TBS and TNT cable networks. Warner intends to broadcast new “alternative sets” aimed at different audiences. A new half-hour live broadcast “TNT Sports Update” every evening at 6 p.m.; And a new weekly program based on social media-driven clips, “House of Highlights.”

The new collection is expected to launch on March 11, the week before the start of the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, which is broadcast by Warner Bros. Television. Discovery in association with Paramount Global's CBS affiliate. TruTV usually broadcasts many matches in the tournament. “Impractical Jokers,” a TruTV star with a loyal fan base, will premiere new episodes on TBS starting this summer. The series will continue to simulcast on both TruTV and TBS through early April.

“We continually strive to create and deliver the best sports content and experiences to sports fans wherever they are, and this is an exciting opportunity to expand our premium TNT Sports programming with greater consistency throughout the year,” said Louis Silberwasser. Chairman and CEO of TNT Sports, in a statement. “By creating a lineup of prime-time sports programming on TruTV, in addition to our existing premium live sports on TNT and TBS, we are now able to offer a more comprehensive sports offering to our fans, while generating additional growth opportunities for our sports department and our strategic and league business partners.”

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Other new programming includes “The Line,” a nightly look at betting across multiple sports genres, which will air live at 6:30 p.m., and “Handles,” which is described as an interactive show that sifts through the top conversations on social media. surrounding the night. NBA games, scheduled to air late at night. Sports movies and documentaries will air in the new programming lineup, including “The Inside Story,” a look at TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” which is scheduled to debut March 15 at 9 p.m., and audio clips from Ernie Johnson , Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O'Neal. It will also appear, as will a list of MotoGP races.

TruTV could use some attention. The network is expected to charge a monthly subscription fee of just 33 cents per customer in 2024, according to estimates from Kagan, a market research unit of S&P Global Intelligence. Meanwhile, ESPN is expected to earn $10.08 per subscriber per month, while TNT requires $2.97 per month. TruTV is expected to take less revenue from distributors in 2024, with Kagan forecasting a 4% decline, to roughly $260.8 million from $271.3 million.

Sports television has also been under some scrutiny lately. Younger audiences have become more accustomed to broadcast portions of games as well as clips and highlights. The regional sports network business, once dominated by Fox, NBC and others, is rapidly transforming, with traditional media companies abandoning it, while Diamond Sports Group, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcasting, is working to emerge from bankruptcy after acquiring… big. A group of local sports institutions. NBCUniversal shut down its own sports network, NBCSN, at the end of 2021.

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However, the decision could give a boost to some of Warner's initiatives, including a new sports-focused joint venture it has established with Fox and Disney. The new outlet aims to reorganize the three companies' sports networks, which include ESPN, Fox Sports1 and TNT. TruTV is included in the new outlet's offerings and investment in new programming could increase the attractiveness of the project. The new sports property is expected to command a monthly fee somewhere between what a traditional regional sports network and broader streaming offerings like YouTubeTV or Hulu + Live are seeking, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move will also expand the role of Warner's sports division, TNT Sports, which is largely known for having one of the most concentrated rights portfolios in the industry. TNT Sports certainly has the rights to a whole lot of NBA stuff. NHL and MLB games, along with a wealth of rights associated with European transfer and the NCAA March Madness event. But its sports properties are smaller than those of competitors like Disney or Fox, and the company lacks any ties to the National Football League, whose games have become central to the economic foundations of many media companies.

The new TruTV platform would help Warner compete more directly with Fox Sports and ESPN, both of which show not only games but hot talk shows, documentaries and shoulder programming that leverage the gaming rights both networks enjoy. It could give the company a new advantage in crucial negotiations looming with the NBA, which is looking to strike new rights contracts. The league's current deals expire at the end of the 2024-25 season, and interest in getting a cut of the matches is said to be intense between traditional TV players and their new digital video counterparts.

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Warner isn't the only media company that has sought to bolster its cable holdings with additional sports content. NBCUniversal attempted to bolster its general entertainment cable network in the USA with sports games previously shown on the now-aborted NBC Sports Network. Disney recently experimented with putting games from the relaunched XFL on its FX cable network.

Warner Bros. Discovery has built a business using this strategy in the past. Its Cartoon Network gained traction among hard-to-reach young male consumers with a nightly programming block known as Adult Swim. At 5pm every evening, regular Cartoon Network shows like “Teen Titans Go!” “The Amazing World of Gumball” is fading in favor of young adult series like “Rick and Morty” and “American Dad.”

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