TVN Annual Exclusive

Status Quo Rules Top 30 Station Groups

A scarcity of M&A activity in the last year resulted in few changes in TVNewsCheck's annual ranking of station groups by revenue. The first 11 slots remained the same, with Fox Television Stations on top. The big change was the loss of Journal Broadcast Group, which merged with E.W. Scripps.

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.

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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.

Brand Connections

TV's Top 30 Group Owners

Rank Group 2014 Rev. (000)
1 Fox $1,745,100
2 CBS $1,614,850
3 Sinclair $1,469,160
4 Gannett $1,420,950
5 Comcast/NBCU $1,364,875
6 Tribune $1,330,575
7 ABC/Disney $1,132,450
8 Media General $989,500
9 Hearst $834,450
10 Univision $752,350
11 Raycom $685,175
12 Scripps $682,175
13 Nexstar $576,365
14 Cox Media $571,600
15 Gray $471,600
16 Meredith $441,350
17 Graham $279,950
18 Sunbeam $220,800
19 Entravision $138,680
20 Cordillera $133,575
21 Hubbard $131,550
22 Quincy $126,050
23 Ion Media $95,300
24 Schurz $95,300
25 Weigel $88,825
26 Dispatch $83,300
27 Capitol $80,750
28 Griffin $76,775
29 Berkshire Hathaway $72,000
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.

New York
2014 Revenue: $1.7 billion
Stations: 28 in 17 markets
Coverage: 37.2%
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.


Comments (9) -

HopeUMakeit Nickname posted a year ago
what can only be described as a modern American tragedy, the consolidation of TV stations into these huge super groups has not benefitted the American people nor the thousands of dedicated, hard working station personnel. What is America actually getting from these million dollar a month ( million dollar a week for Moonves) CEOs?. Watered down news, little investigative journalism, non-existent political reporting and "localism" defined as car wreck reports and weather updates. The American people deserve better. Station staff has faired much worse. Staff benefits look and feel like corporate officer subsidies. These groups needs to be broken up with a 10% cap on market penetration.
jdshaw Nickname posted a year ago
Well said. For the most part local TV news is a very bad joke.
TheVoiceofTruth Nickname posted a year ago
When did you get laid off?
Insider Nickname posted a year ago
Automation, Robotics and Technology will continue to cause MASSIVE layoffs in ALL American Companies (not just Broadcast), large and small. According to a 2013 Oxford Study, 47% of the current American Jobs will be replaced by machines in 10-20 years. Here are the 20 most likely to be replaced.
HopeUMakeit Nickname posted a year ago
smile, I cannot be laid off. I print local dollars like a ATM machine. my current station would never want to compete against me.
Curious Nickname posted a year ago
Would it then follow from your original comment, that in any given market a station that was independently owned or least part of a smaller group should have the best news with more in-depth reporting, have happier and better paid employees and be leading the way in community service?
bf07825 Nickname posted 7 months ago
Operate in the Public Interest. A forgotten time. And like a lot of the past, memory seems to be a bit over burnished
wallawalla Nickname posted a year ago
Good Job Media General, now lets get those diginets to replace Livewell.....
TMAC Nickname posted 6 months ago
TV station groups even after M&A believe they are competitive in media. I do feel for hundreds of thousands of dedicated people who hope that the CEO knows what he or she is doing. The irony is in news programming, relevancy, is a mantra of news directors. The local TV station has never been less relevant than they are today. The sector only needs one or two market shifts to crush an industry: 1) Political shifts to digital and social 2) Retrans fees reverse when cable is pushed into a new "skinny" business model 3) News audiences reduce enough to eliminate the 3rd and 4th station in a market. Wall Street analyst will see it first and their reaction time is a nano-second. Local TV is following the same pattern in social media that many of us observed in digital. They are not just bad at it. They don't even get it.
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