Tanika Ray, Alyson Fouse, Kym Whitley, Yvette Nicole Brown and Tisha Campbell attend Bounce TV’s “Act Your Age” Los Angeles Series Premiere at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on February 27, 2023 in West Hollywood, California. 

Charley Gallay | Getty Images

E.W. Scripps, one of the largest local TV broadcasters in the U.S., has hired a financial advisor to evaluate inbound interest in acquiring Bounce TV, its over-the-air network geared toward African Americans, according to Scripps CEO Adam Symson.

The sale process comes after Paramount Global shopped around Black entertainment company BET Media Group last year, but ultimately decided not to sell. Interested parties from that potential deal, many of them with Black leadership, have since approached Scripps with interest in owning Bounce TV, Symson said in an exclusive CNBC interview. If Scripps pursues a deal, it hopes to attract a price tag in the hundreds of millions, according to people familiar with the matter.

E.W. Scripps trades for about $3.70 per share at a market valuation of roughly $315 million. The stock is down more than 50% this year amid concerns over pay-TV cancellations that diminish the audience for broadcast networks.

Symson declined to comment on the names of the bidders or the potential price for Bounce TV. People familiar with the process said a deal could happen around mid-year or the third quarter.

“The number of inbounds and conversations that we have had with interested and qualified potential suitors has picked up significantly over the last year,” Symson said. “The earlier BET process, which was never consummated, may have opened up people’s eyes to the power of Bounce.”

Some advertising agencies and big brands earmark some spending specifically for minority-controlled businesses, Symson said, which can increase the value of media assets if they’re sold from conglomerates to Black owners. He added a platform such as Bounce TV could also serve as a landing spot for a catalog of Black creators.

Scripps officials began telling Bounce TV employees about the inbound interest on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the communications.

Bounce TV, which debuted in 2011, is a free over-the-air network that broadcasts a combination of syndicated shows, movies and original content. All content is geared to African American audiences. Bounce TV’s “Johnson,” a dramedy created by Deji LaRay, is entering its fourth season. The network is also launching a new comedy series, “Mind Your Business,” that premieres June 1.

EW Scripps CEO Adam Symson

Source: EW Scripps

Ratings for Bounce TV have improved in recent years, even as legacy media has struggled. In the first quarter, Bounce TV viewership was up 14% on linear and 9% on connected TVs, Symson said. About 70% of Bounce TV’s audience is over the air. The other 30% is derived through pay TV and streaming, he said.

While Symson declined to give specifics about Bounce TV’s finances, he said the company has doubled the network’s revenue since acquiring it as part of the takeover of Katz Networks for $302 million in 2017.  

Scripps operates a portfolio of more than 60 stations in more than 40 U.S. markets.

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