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SNL Kagan: Broadcasters Retrans Revenues Rose 47% in 3Q

Broadcasters' TV retransmission revenue rose 47% in the third quarter of 2011 from the prior year, reaching about 33 cents per subscriber per month, according to a new study from SNL Kagan.

Getting the biggest fees from multichannel providers was Univision, which took in 61 cents per sub, according to SNL Kagan, which looked at 16 TV stations owners. Univision generated retrans revenue of $81 million in the quarter, SNL Kagan estimates.

Sinclair Broadcast Group had an estimated $35.9 million in retrans revenue in the third quarter, or 49 cents per sub. Newport Television and LIN TV took in 48 cents per sub and CBS received about 45 cents per sub, generating an estimated total of $52.3 million during the quarter.

Overall, the 16 station groups in the study generated $269.4 million in retrans revenue during the quarter. SNL Kagan expects that the broadcast industry will earn $1.45 billion in retrans payments during all of 2011.

Cable networks generate bigger fees. According to SNL Kagan, cable operators paid $4.69 per sub for ESPN in 2011. Among non-sports networks, big earners included TNT, which took in $1.16 per sub; Disney Channel, which generated 94 cents; and Fox News, which brought in 78 cents a share.  Cable networks earning about 33 cents included MTV, Discovery Channel and CNBC. Unlike the broadcast networks, cable and satellite operators get commercial time to sell when they distribute cable channels.

SNL Kagan said it expects that retransmission fees will continue to increase given the leverage of valuable programming in 2012, including the Summer Olympics on NBC.