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Retransmission fees bring ABC multiple revenue streams

The ABC TV network now has more than 64 percent of consumer TV service providers that carry its network paying retransmission fees for the right to carry the signal. This, said Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, means that the network has now become a multi-revenue stream business for the first time in its history.

ABC’s affiliates now pay the network a license fee or a portion of the so-called retransmission consent dollars they are collecting from cable, satellite and telco TV operators. Over the past year, ABC itself has done deals to get cash for its owned stations with Cablevision, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

Sweeney discussed the change in ABC’s business at a Walt Disney investor event last month. Not all affiliates, however, are yet onboard to the idea of paying the network for its programming. Sweeney advocated the Inventory Exchange System that began last fall. It allows the network and affiliates to exchange spots, maximizing inventory for each.

“We’ve injected marketplace dynamics and entrepreneurial spirit to create more value across the board,” Sweeney told the investors.