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HomeBollywoodE.W. Scripps Repositions ION As A General Entertainment Network

E.W. Scripps Repositions ION As A General Entertainment Network

E.W. Scripps, which acquired ION in 2020, is repositioning the broadcast network as a home for general entertainment and live sports.

WNBA and National Women’s Soccer League games will now occupy weekly slots in the programming lineup, which had historically consisted only of syndicated fare. Many of those off-net titles will remain, with Bull a recent addition and the newer version of Magnum P.I. entering the rotation in September. Recent seasons of Blue Bloods, NCIS, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Law & Order: SUV and FBI are also heading to the network.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will mark its 100th anniversary in 2025, is set to air live on May 29 and 30 across ION and other Scripps networks. In 2022, the tournament ended its 27-year run on ESPN and became a flagship event for the company’s own networks.

Primarily known a decade ago for its TV stations and other local assets, Scripps paid $2.65 billion for ION in a deal that closed in 2021. It then combined ION with networks like Court TV and Bounce to create a more robust national portfolio. The company will tout ION’s new direction on Tuesday in New York in an upfront presentation to ad buyers.

WNBA games, which have helped galvanize interest in women’s sports in recent years, arrived on ION last year. This year’s slate of games will start May 17 with a dedicated Friday night slot and a weekly studio show described by Scripps as the first in the league’s history. In previous deals with media partners, the NBA coupled its own rights with those of the WNBA. Speculation has been growing that the WNBA rights could be shopped separately as the 2025 expiration of the current deals approaches. A separation would likely result in a higher asking price and a more active bidding process.

NWSL games began airing in March 16. ION will have 50 matches, most of any network, and will often feature Saturday night doubleheaders. Similar to the WNBA, studio shows with pre-match, halftime and post-match components will be a first for the league.

With new logos in place for ION and related FAST channels, Scripps will launch a year-long marketing campaign built around the tagline “ION. It’s On” and running on various internal and third-party channels.

“We think now is the perfect time to refresh the network’s look and strengthen ION’s lineup to meet the evolving interests of media consumers,” said Scripps Chief Marketing Officer Keisha Taylor Starr. “ION offers the broadest reach possible. Adding sports and live events from growing leagues like the WNBA and NWSL will attract new, younger and more diverse audiences, while reinforcing ION’s hall of fame lineup of contemporary drama series for our large and loyal viewership. This line-up is a win-win for consumers.”

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