Traditional affiliate fees -- long the revenue backbone for U.S. cable TV networks -- witnessed their first overall revenue declines ever in the second quarter.
Cable network affiliates' revenues sank 3% in the period to $9 billion after three previous sequential quarters of slight 1% increases, according to MoffettNathanson Research estimates from analysis and company reports.
The data used in this analysis does not include new digital subscription video-on-demand services.
“With cord-cutting at record levels, price increases are no longer enough to offset distribution declines, and alongside heavy RSN [regional sports networks] rebates,” writes Craig Moffett, senior research analyst, MoffettNathanson.
NBC was down 15% to $1.5 billion, while AMC Networks was 11% lower ($231 million), Viacom lost 9% ($860 million) and WarnerMedia (Turner) was off 3% ($1.5 billion). Those that still showed gains include Discovery, up 7% ($739 million); Walt Disney, up 1% ($3.2 billion); and Fox Corp., 1% more to $968 million.
The results for NBCU include regional sports networks (RSNs). while the results for WarnerMedia do not.
At the same time, broadcast TV networks are still gaining from retransmission fee revenues -- up 15% to $2.1 billion. Fox was up 22% in the second quarter to $551 million, while CBS was 15% higher ($605 million); Disney (ABC) was 13% more ($425 million) and NBC was up 9% ($548 million).