US TV retransmission revenue to top $9.3BN
Michelle Clancy
| 28 October 2014
TV station owners' retransmission fees are expected to reach $9.3 billion by 2020, according to data released by SNL Kagan.

The research firm expects the total to be $4.9 billion this year.

At the same time, SNL Kagan is projecting rising reverse retransmission compensation rates based on recent deals, leading to a higher percentage of retrans fees flowing back to the broadcast networks. The good news is the projections still indicate net retrans growth for affiliated stations, albeit at lower rates than last year.

The projections for growth are based on rising per-month sub fees for TV station owners in recent negotiations, as well as a new set of expectations for what broadcast networks are asking in programming compensation from their affiliates.

Despite recent regulatory efforts to chip away at TV stations' bargaining position in negotiations with multichannel operators and potentially slow the growth of retrans, the market at least near term continues to march higher. SNL Kagan's projections call for retrans revenues to rise to $8.78 billion by 2019, versus their 2019 projection of $7.64 billion from last year.

The average $1.32 retrans fee that SNL Kagan anticipate the industry will receive by 2017 across all markets and all affiliates puts TV stations above all but five basic cable networks in terms of affiliate fees per sub per month, with networks such as ESPN ($7.72) and TNT ($1.92) all still above that average mark. Most regional sports networks are projected to be significantly above this $1.26 benchmark.

SNL Kagan's reverse retrans projections show that the affiliate funds that flow back to the networks could increase from $1.53 billion in 2015 to $3.22 billion in 2020. SNL Kagan shows reverse retrans payments back to the networks growing to 59% of affiliates' retrans payments over time, even as affiliates' monthly fees increase in the coming years.