SNL Kagan Projects TV Station ad Revenue Growth in 2010

Retrans and Web income will offset this year’s plunge

MONTERREY, CALIF: The latest TV station revenue study from SNL Kagan suggests 2010 will be a better year for the industry. Kagan’s “TV Station Deals & Finance,” says ad revenues at TV stations could reach $18.5 billion next year, after declining by 2.5 percent in 2008 and a further 17 percent in 2009. SNL Kagan analysts said a mild recovery in ad markets, plus even-year political and Olympic spend, will drive the positive momentum.

Retransmission consent revenues reached $500.1 million in 2008, Kagan said, and are projected to grow to $738.7 million in 2009, crossing the billion-dollar threshold by 2011. SNL Kagan also estimated that online revenues generated by TV station operators will surpass $1 billion by 2012.

“Non-traditional revenues have helped to offset some of the revenue softness resulting from the economic downturn,” said SNL Kagan analyst Robin Flynn. “In particular, retransmission fee revenue has proven to be a high growth, high margin revenue stream for TV station owners. We’ve seen broadcasters successfully conclude retrans agreements with multichannel providers over the past several years, which should lead to continued growth for this revenue segment.”

The latest SNL Kagan study also examined TV station deals. The TV deal market in 2008 plummeted to lows not seen in decades. The average deal price for 2008 reached an 18-year low of $12.9 million and cash flow multiples fell to 8x in the fourth quarter--a benchmark not seen since 1991. Through the first half of 2009, 114 stations sold for $550.1 million or 9.3x cash flow, but the majority were senior lender takeovers in debt-for-equity swaps.

“Although the deal market has been very quiet in 2008-09 thanks to lack of finance and a slow advertising market, things could begin to improve in 2010 as a pent-up supply of stations comes to market. Leading TV station properties in attractive markets continue to be highly sought-after assets,” Flynn said.