TV Stations Rejoice As Cable TV Channels Hit Hard Times - More Retrans Money?

Despite the overall perception of linear TV as trending downward, big U.S. TV station groups are looking up. Sports and news are their stars.

Much of this optimism comes from massive changes to regional sports cable TV networks -- and a market-changing deal between Charter Communications and Walt Disney.

Gray Television believes the first bit of good news is the return of major sports TV leagues and teams to over-the-air TV stations, due to financial troubles of those regional sports networks (RSNs).

TV stations are all too happy to welcome back sports, because while the content is on "linear" TV, it is -- more importantly -- "live." This all works nicely with stations' continued efforts around live TV news, all of which analysts are now calling "premium” TV.  

Think of these station groups as wannabe mini-Fox Corp. entities where their airwaves are dominated by news and sports.

Nexstar Media Group, the biggest U.S. TV station group, has a broader view: the overall decline of cable TV business is especially impacting small, niche cable TV networks, which now seem vulnerable. 



As most business insiders know, this began with Charter Communications' now ground-breaking deal, where eight small or niche Walt Disney cable TV networks were not included in an overall long-term carriage deal.

Nexstar calls those networks "derivative." For example, Paramount+ channels include networks affixed with MTV brand names such as MTV2, MTV Tr3s, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, and MTV Classic, among others.

Nexstar believes the savings of carriage fees from those networks will be shifted to ever-bigger, strong local TV station groups -- in terms of projected strong rising retransmission revenues --  especially now because of growing sports and news content that people really want to watch.

Both Gray and Nexstar also believe continually rising consumer streaming costs will force consumers to trim back on certain premium streaming apps -- or in the case of Charter-Disney, where Charter will make streamers available on its legacy pay TV platforms, like ESPN+.

Basically, the belief is that business will return to old-school-type broadcast TV -- a place consumers are familiar with. The perception is that prices for these local TV stations will be free and/or modest versus the high price for pay TV services and/or premium streaming.

This could be all short-term thinking. Where, for example, do these TV station groups believe future TV station viewers will come from? Not necessarily millennials, Gen-Xers, or even 18-   to-49-year-olds.

Right now, many do not even watch any live, linear TV -- or that much in the way of mainstream streaming services. Instead, they watch a lot of YouTube, as well as interacting with gaming content, and of course, tons of social media.

TV stations' regular customers are mostly older 60- to-65-year-old viewers.

Right now, sports and news content still appear to give TV stations all they need until the next technology innovation -- perhaps when artificial intelligence figures out what we all want to see -- and how to get it.

3 comments about "TV Stations Rejoice As Cable TV Channels Hit Hard Times - More Retrans Money?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 23, 2023 at 10:04 a.m.

    Wayne, the key to what may---or may not happen is the nature of the content that is offerd---not whether the method of access is "payTV" , over-the--air reception  or streaming. As Nielsen pointed out in its just released "Gauge" report for September, broadcast TV registered strong gains with the return of football---especially among younger viewers.

    The basic problem that the broadcasters have had regarding losses in share of viewing to streaming has been their fixation on old appeal programming---at the station level this has been mostly news with  syndicated prime access game  and celebrity doing shows plus daytime talk and small claims court programs all catering to over 50 viewers. I must add that I don't seee how this sitiation can be remedied. Who is going to develop original young appeal fare and offer it to the stations? That approach is much to risky a proposition for most syndicators. Can the stations do it themselves? I doubt it.

  2. Ben B from Retired, October 23, 2023 at 7:28 p.m.

    MTV Hits is now Nick Music changed the name in Sep of 2016, along with MTV Jams now being BET Jams etc. I agree with Ed.

  3. Robert Rose from AIM Tell-A-Vision, October 23, 2023 at 8:58 p.m.

    Three thumbs up on what Ed said. If you build it they may or may not come, but if you don't build it, they certainly won't come. 

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