Networks' Reverse Comp Take to Hit $1B in 2014

Reverse compensation from affiliated stations could become a billion dollar revenue stream for the major broadcast networks by 2014, according to a new analysis by SNL Kagan.

"For major networks, sharing in affiliates' retrans revenue stream is now a given, and although slightly different models are emerging, network partners appear to be planning to receive at least half of the income flowing to affiliates," according to the Kagan report. "Reverse retrans, added to the retrans revenues going to the nets' owned-and-operated stations, produces a major new revenue stream for broadcast networks."

For 2011, Disney, which owns ABC, will be getting the most in reverse compensation at $53 million, followed by Fox and MyNetwork TV owner News Corp. at $39 million, CBS at $28 million (also including the CW). Comcast gets $5 million for NBC and Telemundo. News Corp. generates the most retrans revenue from cable and satellite operators at $257 million in 2011, according to Kagan. CBS gets $181, Disney gets $104 million and Comcast gets $16 million.

Kagan says ABC gets the most in reverse comp because it's completed agreements with 60% of its non-owned footprint, more than the other networks.

Those figures should grow significantly in the next few years. In 2014, News Corp. will rake in $296 million from affiliates, CBS $284 million, Disney $231 million, and Comcast $202 million, for a total of $1.037 billion. At the same time, the broadcasters trans payments from operators will be $1.562 billion.

Disney's reverse comp and retrans payments may be limited because it has fewer expensive sports on its broadcast network, and in particular does not air the NFL. (Disney works with the NFL on ESPN.) While it may get less, Disney will have to pay less of its retrans and reverse comp revenue to sports rights holders than its competitors, Kagan posts out.

Spanish-language leader Univision is getting $303 million in retrans in 2011 and $21 million in reverse compensation from affiliates, according to Kagan. Kagan expects those figures to grow to $343 million for retrans and $24 million for reverse comp by 2014.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.