Traditional U.S. pay-TV subscriptions dropped by nearly 7.2 million in 2020 according to the latest figures from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan unit. The Kagan figures further document that it was a tough year for pay-TV companies as viewers shifted to streaming amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Kagan, about 22 retrans deals are expected to come up for renewal in 2021, affecting about 30.2 million subscribers. All together, Kagan estimates that about 334 stations in 244 markets will come up for renewal this year. While comparisons are tough, Kagan says that is lower than 2020, when they estimate retrans deals affected about 56 million subscribers.
U.S. television station deals reached $4.86 billion in the first quarter, dominated by station consolidations and spinoffs, according to Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.
According to Kagan’s fourth-quarter 2018 U.S. multichannel subscription report, traditional multichannel video losses swelled in the fourth quarter to push the full-year decline to nearly 4 million subscribers.
In the largest deal of the quarter and year, Nexstar Media Group announced on Dec. 3 that it would acquire all of Tribune Media’s assets for $46.50 per share. Kagan estimates the broadcast assets to be worth $3.51 billion.
Media research group Kagan found 32 deals involving TV stations in the quarter, with 23 full-power and 23 low-power stations changing hands. In the same quarter a year ago, there were 21 deals made, with 11 full-power and 55 LPTVs exchanged for a total of $100.1 million.
Radio and TV station merger and acquisition activity totaled $5.11 billion in the second quarter of 2018, the biggest quarter since second quarter 2007. Kagan says, however, that 98% of the volume was attributable to TV stations sales, led by Gray Television’s acquisition of Raycom Media for $3.65 billion.
While diginets still have some hurdles to face — such as rising program license fees — they have captured the attention of general-market advertisers and they are looking forward to the rollout of the upcoming ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard with its expanded capacity. What’s more, the multicast networks are relieved that the FCC’s incentive auction and ongoing repack of the TV band isn’t affecting their station carriage deals to any significant extent.
Multichannel services cede ground to over-the-top content and virtual service providers in the latest U.S. video household segmentation outlook from Kagan.