Station groups’ optimism about an increasing revenue boost from carriage fees is validated by new research. SNL Kagan has increased its forecast
for retrans consent dollars by 13% for 2017.
The new projection calls for a combined $5.5 billion for the year across the industry, compared to a prediction of $4.86 billion issued last year.
SNL Kagan also forecasts that industry-wide retrans consent dollars will be $2.36 billion this year and up 154%-plus to over $6 billion in 2018.
The Big Four networks benefit through two streams with retrans dollars: compensation for carriage of their owned-and-operated stations and payments from affiliates. At the affiliate level, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook believes stations can get to the point where they are collecting fees from cable/satellite/ telco TV operators similar to what regional sports networks get, which could be $3 a month per subscriber. SNL Kagan projects an average of a little less than $1 a month by 2018.
By 2018, SNL Kagan estimates that about 20% of all revenues stations get from retrans and ad dollars will come from the carriage fees.
In 2015, an operator is projected to pay an average retrans fee of 74 cents per subscriber per month for a station affiliated with the Big Four and CW. The combined amount would be below the estimated $6.37 paid to ESPN and the average per station about half of what an operator would pay for TNT ($1.50 per subscriber per month), SNL Kagan says.