T-Mobile Takes the Most TV Spectrum for $8 Billion

Wells Fargo's Marci Ryvicker weighs in
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NEW YORK—T-Mobile was the big winner in the recently concluded TV spectrum incentive auction, followed by Dish and Comcast, according to Marci Ryvicker, senior analyst at Wells Fargo, commenting on the auction results released today by the Federal Communications Commission. (See, “987 Stations Displaced, 175 Broadcasters to Split $10 Billion.”)

“We learned that the biggest winners in the auction were [T-Mobile], which won $7.99 billion; Dish, which won $6.2 billion, [and Comcast] which won $1.7 billion,#8221; Ryvicker noted in an equity research note.

“The big surprise to us was the amount of spectrum that Dish won—$6.2 billion versus our estimate of nothing—though maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised given the attractive pricing and [Dish CEO Charlie Ergen’s] penchant for purchasing spectrum; especially when it’s a ‘deal.’

“[Comcast’s] $1.7 billion was less than our $5 billion estimate, but the company did not go nationwide. It bought spectrum in only 72 of the 416 total partial economic areas, so we think it stayed within its wireline footprint. [AT&T] and [Verizon] spent a combined $900 million—far less than the $5 billion we had predicted

“We learned some interesting things from the detailed reverse-auction results.Specifically, Comcast/NBCU sold three stations [in] Chicago, NewYork and Philly for a collective $480 million. Fox sold three stations [in] Chicago, D.C. and Charlotte, N.C., for $354 million. CBS sold one Minneapolis station for $10 million.

“Stations sold in the Top-10 markets received $6.75 billion of the $10.05 billion of total reverse auction proceeds, though we’d note it was really eight of the top 10, as no stations were sold in Houston or Atlanta. The quiet period for the forward auction participants is scheduled to end on April 27 at 6 p.m., which is when down payments are due. The quiet period for reverse auction participants had already concluded.”