U.S. affiliate revenues and retransmission fees continue to be the savior of major TV network companies -- even as national TV advertising dollars suffer.
Total broadcast retransmission revenues and cable network carriage fees grew 8.5% to $10.93 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, according to MoffettNathanson Research.
These results examined eight major publicly traded TV companies that own cable networks (NBCUniversal, Discovery Communications, Scripps Networks Interactive, Viacom, AMC Networks, 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney and Time Warner), and four broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox).
The research shows that U.S. basic cable network fees (excluding SVOD revenues) were up 6.2% to $9.6 billion for the last three months of 2017, with broadcast networks' retransmission fees nearly 29% higher to $1.3 billion.
This comes against continuing declines in U.S. national advertising in the fourth quarter — sinking 3.6% to $10.97 billion. Broadcast networks were down 4.5% to $5.05 billion, while cable networks slipped 2.9% to $5.92 billion.
MoffettNathanson says the fourth-quarter ad results were the fourth consecutive quarter of negative national TV ad revenue growth — the first full-year decline in a non-recessionary year.
Fourth-quarter national TV viewing results also sank 13% in Nielsen C3 18-49 ratings — 18% for broadcast networks and 10% lower for cable networks.