Kagan Releases Updated Retransmission Projections
U.S. TV Station Owners Retransmission Fees Expected to Reach Nearly $12.8 B by 2023
According to Kagan, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence, U.S. TV station owners' retransmission (retrans) fees from multichannel operators and virtual service providers are now expected to reach nearly $12.8 billion by 2023, versus the projected $9.3 billion this year, up 18% from $7.9 billion in 2016.
While recent negotiations with multichannel operators have seen TV station owners continuing to secure higher retrans fees, including annual dollar-per-sub rate step-ups, station owners' margins have compressed due to their affiliation renewal contracts reflecting larger network programming expense increases. Kagan’s reverse retrans projections call for major affiliate station group owners to send back $2.9 billion to the major broadcast networks in 2017, up 34% from an estimated $2.2 billion in reverse retrans in 2016.
Net affiliate multichannel retrans revenue growth is still expected to be in the low-single digits over the projection period, with reverse retrans as a percentage of affiliate gross retrans expected to rise in each renewal from 50% in 2017 to 53% in 2018, 54% in 2019 and 59% by the end of 2023. While the networksare getting more aggressive in affiliate negotiations, TV station owners’ retrans contracts with the multichannel operators are renewed every three years. Their affiliation agreements average four to five years, so they have some visibility on their net retrans until the next renewal.
According to recent investor presentations and executive guidance in quarterly earnings calls, TV station owners are currently asking multichannel operators for $1.50 to $2.00 per sub per month on average for Big Four affiliates in major markets (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX), increasing toward $2.00 to $2.50 with annual rate step-ups over the course of the contract.
But despite that growth, by 2020, the projected $11.4 billion in multichannel retrans and virtual service providers (VSP) carriage fees are expected to represent just 20.7% of the $55.0 billion Kagan projects multichannel operators will pay to basic cable networks and regional sports networks (RSNs) that year – this despite the much higher TV viewing share for the Big Four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX).
The average $2.10 retrans fee that we anticipate the industry will receive by 2020 puts TV stations above all but two basic cable networks in terms of affiliate fees per sub per month, with ESPN ($9.50) and TNT ($2.71) still above that average mark. Seven RSNs are projected to be above the $5.00 mark, led by YES Network ($6.74), FOX Sports Detroit ($6.69), MSG Network ($5.69), SportsNet LA ($5.60), FOX Sports Arizona ($5.48), Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia ($5.32), and Spectrum SportsNet/Deportes ($5.08).
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