A First For U.S. Cable Networks: Affiliate Revenues Fall For First Time In Q2.


The second quarter of 2020 was unprecedented for U.S. cable television networks, with traditional affiliate fees falling for the first time ever.


Those revenues, the financial foundation of cable TV networks, fell 3% to $9 billion. That’s according to an estimate by MoffettNathanson Research, which says the decline follows three straight quarters of marginal 1% hikes. MoffettNathanson’s estimates come from analysis and company reports.


According to MediaPost, which reported on the research firm’s findings, the data doesn’t 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,” wrote Craig Moffett, senior research analyst at MoffettNathanson.


NBC Universal fell 15% to $1.5 billion. AMC Networks declined 11% to $231 million, while Viacom lost 9% to $860 million, with WarnerMedia, which includes Turner, falling 3% to $1.5 billion.


Several cable networks, however, still managed to show gains. They include Discovery (up 7% to $739 million), Disney (+1% to $3.2 billion), and Fox Corp. (+1% to $968 million). MediaPost’s report notes that NBCU’s results include regional sports networks, or RSNs, while WarnerMedia’s do not.


It was a different story for broadcast TV networks, which saw retransmission fee revenues rise 15% to $2.1 billion in Q2. Breaking it down by individual networks, Fox was up 22% to $551 million, with CBS up 15% to $605 million. Disney, which owns ABC, was up 13% to $425 million, and NBC was up 9% to $548 million.

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