Status Quo Rules Top 30 Station Groups
As a result of a very quiet station-trading marketplace in the past 12 months, there were only a few changes to TVNewsCheck’s annual ranking of the Top 30 TV Station Groups. In fact, the top 11 companies on the list retained their positions from a year ago.
Only one company left the list — Journal Broadcast Group (last year’s No. 19) was absorbed into E.W. Scripps, which moved up two slots to the No. 14 position.
Filling the vacancy created by Journal’s exit is privately held News-Press & Gazette Co., whose NPG Broadcast unit delivered $70.6 million in 2014 revenues to land it at No. 30.
Other than that, there were only small moves in rank position, the greatest being Cordillera Communications’ rise from No. 23 a year ago to 20 this year.
Three companies changed position by two slots, nine by a single position.
TVNewsCheck’s annual ranking of the Top 30 is based on advertising revenue estimates for 2014 provided through an exclusive arrangement with BIA/Kelsey.
TV's Top 30 Group Owners
|Rank||Group||2014 Rev. (000)|
|30||News-Press & Gazette||$70,580|
The rankings are based on advertising estimates alone, and do not include other revenue from retransmission consent, websites and other digital ventures.
Also, although the estimates are for 2014, the station groups are credited for revenue for all stations they own and operate as well as for any stations they announced they are acquiring between May 22, 2014, when the last Top 30 was posted, and April 30, even if the deals have not closed.
Looking ahead to next year, it’s likely there could be some movement based on increased revenue generated by groups with stations in areas with strong political spending.
The number of stations may change next year following the FCC’s scheduled spectrum auction, says Mark Fratrik, BIA/Kelsey SVP and chief economist. "But this year I don’t see many changes given the constraints of the FCC’s local ownership rules, and that's not changing any time soon. Many of these groups are constrained from growing any bigger — both on a local level and [in terms of] national reach.”
The auction, Fratrick says, may appeal to some of the smaller groups below the TVN Top 30 that may decide to opt out.
“There are a lot of people out there looking to buy, pick up a few markets here and there,” Fratrik says.
BIA/Kelsey, an investment and research firm based in Chantilly, Va., tracks station group ownership and uses information from individual stations and markets, in addition to historical data, to generate its station and market ad revenue estimates. It checks its estimates against whatever public information is available, Fratrik says.
BIA/Kelsey ranks Mission Broadcasting and stations owned by Stephen Mumblow and Cunningham Broadcasting as distinct groups with distinct ownership. But because they function essentially as subsidiaries of Sinclair, TVNewsCheck lumps their revenues together. The same holds true for Gannett, which includes the revenue of Sander Media; Tribune, which includes the revenue of Dreamcatcher Broadcasting; and Nexstar, which includes the revenue of Mission Broadcasting.
The group station coverage figures and numbers of stations/markets were also provided by BIA/Kelsey. (Editor's note: The coverage numbers for some groups were incorrectly reported when this story was originally posted. They have been updated.) The number of stations includes full-power and low-power stations.
1. FOX TELEVISION STATIONS
2014 Revenue: $1.7 billion
Stations: 28 in 17 markets
Ownership: 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ: FOXA)
Key Executives: Rupert Murdoch, chairman-CEO, 21st Century Fox; Chase Carey, president-COO, 21st Century Fox; James Murcoch, co-COO, 21st Century Fox; Roger Ailes, chairman-CEO, Fox News/chairman, Fox Television Stations; Gary Newman, chairman-CEO, Fox Television Group; Dana Walden, chairman-CEO, Fox Television Group; Jack Abernethy, CEO, Fox Television Stations; Dennis Swanson, president, station operations, Fox Television Stations.
What’s Up: Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy has long made clear the company's desire to own stations in top markets with NFC teams to take full advantage of the Fox network's rights to broadcast NFC games every Sunday. So last September, Fox told Tribune that it was terminating its affiliation for KCPQ Seattle and offered to swap its MNT affiliate in Chicago, WPWR, for KCPQ. Then, at the beginning of October, Fox announced it was buying KBCB in the Seattle suburb of Bellingham, Wash. But in a surprise move, on Oct. 17, the two announced a new multi-year extension of the Fox affiliation for KCPQ through July 2018, which is concurrent with the timing of seven other Tribune Broadcasting Fox affiliation agreements.