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Sinclair brings tennis-centric T2 to free broadcast TV

The streaming channel will launch as a virtual network on Sinclair-owned stations broadcasting in ATSC 3.0.

The streaming channel will launch as a virtual network on Sinclair-owned stations broadcasting in ATSC 3.0.

A tennis-related stock image
(Stock image via Unsplash)

Sinclair Broadcast Group says it will deploy its tennis-centric streaming channel T2 to free broadcast television in markets where one of its stations has started airing content via the ATSC 3.0 standard.

The move will bring T2 to free television in 43 markets where a Sinclair station has started broadcasting in ATSC 3.0, which is better known by the consumer brand name NextGen TV. Currently, T2 is widely available on free, ad-supported streaming platforms like The Roku Channel and Amazon’s Freevee.

In a statement, Sinclair said T2 will appear as a “virtual channel” within the electronic program guide of TV sets that have NextGen TV tuners. The virtual channel will be delivered over the Internet when users select T2 from the electronic program guide of their NextGen TV-capable sets — which means only NextGen TVs connected to the Internet will be able to receive the channel.

Still, it opens the door for other broadcasters who have launched NextGen TV signals of their own to experiment with virtual channels in the same way, using the Internet as a response feed to deliver interactivity such as live news, weather reports and traffic updates to viewers who tune in to a local station.

For T2, it means reaching a new audience that has gravitated toward free broadcast television at a time when cable and satellite fees have squeezed out frugal consumers, and when free streaming services are starting to rise in popularity.

T2 has already cultivated a decent audience of younger viewers who are more receptive to receiving linear content through streaming platforms. The channel has aired professional men’s and women’s tournament matches that complement coverage on The Tennis Channel, Sinclair’s cable network, along with documentaries and short-form programming that are exclusive to the streaming channel.

“With this new NextGen broadcast platform that Sinclair is leading the way in introducing, people all over the country will have more ways to watch live, top-tier professional sports around the clock, with the best players in the world, all year long,” Ken Solomon, the President of the Tennis Channel, said in a statement. “This means hours and hours of daily, continuous play and original programming that only exists on T2.”

The logo of Sinclair-owned tennis channel T2. (Courtesy image)
The logo of Sinclair-owned tennis channel T2. (Courtesy image)

Bringing T2 to NextGen TV-capable sets will unlock additional opportunities for viewers, too: Sinclair has laid out plans to offer some programming in high dynamic range, or HDR, a standard that improves the color and contrast of a video feed.

We are excited to expand the reach of T2, improve the viewer experience with HDR, and extend our flexible cloud distribution strategies,” Mike Kralec, the Chief Technology Officer at Sinclair, said in a statement. “Delivering high quality programming via connected smart TV provides an initial path for distribution that can precede that same programming eventually being received over-the-air.”

The initiative is the latest involving Sinclair’s decision to leverage a virtual channel to bring more programming to NextGen TV viewers. Last week, Sinclair announced it was working with America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) to help not-for-profit, community-based television stations launch their signals on the NextGen TV standard.

The partnership involves Sinclair donating a virtual channel that public television stations can use to facilitate their transition to NextGen TV, and is available in areas where a Sinclair station has agreed to serve as the regional “lighthouse” broadcaster for ATSC 3.0.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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