2018 A Tough Year For Traditional Media Companies

The difficult 2018 stock market year extended to media, advertising tech and other related companies -- with many witnessing big double-digit percentage price declines.

The Dow Jones U.S. Media Sector Total Stock Market Index sank 6.9% to 7,997 for the year -- just hours before the stock market’s closing for 2018. Concerns over a U.S. and global economic slowdown, as well as possible U.S. induced tariffs, are the main reasons for the stock market pullback this year.

The news was particularly bad for traditional media companies, including CBS, Comcast Corp., Charter Communications and Viacom, which took it on the chin year-over-year -- down 28% ($42.91); 19% ($33.44); 19% ($281.56); and 19% ($25.21), respectively.

Other big declines were seen at AT&T, which completed a massive $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner, down 27% to $28.18, and Dish Network, sinking 52% to $24.13.



While TV station groups moved to greater consolidation, some big players suffered. Sinclair Broadcast Group lost 31% to $25.80, as federal regulators rejected its Tribune Media deal. Tegna also sank 26% to $10.53.

Nielsen took on steep losses, as well as the possibly of some divesting of assets. It was down 37% to $23.11. Nielsen competitor Comscore gave up 52% during the year to $13.68, as it recovers from resolving internal accounting issues.

Most big media agency holding companies had it better overall -- down 2% when looking at Dow Jones U.S. Media Agencies Index to 5,714. Interpublic Group of Cos. was up 1% to $20.50; Omnicom Media Group was flat at $72.50. Publicis Group lost 16% to $56.09.

WPP Group had a negative year -- down 41% to $54.01 as its longtime CEO Martin Sorrell was force to depart over behavioral issues.

In the silver-lining department, Netflix gained 30% to $261.60, while Twitter was 17% higher to $28.58 and Amazon was up 25% to $1,488.

Traditional TV companies -- Tribune Media and 21st Century Fox -- gained from announced sales of its companies, whole or in part. Tribune grew 7% to $45.27, while Fox soared 34% to $47.49. Nexstar Media Group made a $4 billion bid for Tribune Media -- slipping 2% for the year to $76.04. Walt Disney, in its purchase of half of Fox’s businesses for $71.3 billion, was down 4% to $107.80.

Other traditional media also pointed upward for the year: Discovery added 5% to $24.24; AMC Networks was up 1% to $53.71. Verizon Communications -- even with its current devaluation of its Oath digital businesses -- was up 3% to $55.26.

Two big media-tech heavyweights followed industry-wide average stock-price loses: Apple was down 9% to 157.48, while Google lost 4% to 1,027.

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