Nexstar stays on top, Gray is back, and TEGNA drops a spot.
We have updated our original list based on financial reports filed by some of the publicly traded group owners, our proprietary survey of broadcasters, and also a full forecast update from BIA on local advertising expectations. The biggest differences are that Gray moves up from No. 4 to No. 2., while Hearst Television, Inc. and EW Scripps Co. swap places.
Once again Nexstar Broadcasting is the Top TV station group by total revenue in 2022. With approximately $5.2 billion in total revenue (nearly $2.6 billion in advertising revenue and $2.6 billion in estimated retransmission* revenue), up from $4.0 billion in 2021 ($1.9 billion in advertising and $2.1 billion in retransmission revenues).
As Nexstar maintains duopoly partnerships (ie – Joint Services Agreements and/or Shared Services Agreements) with Mission Broadcasting-owned TV stations, we have combined Nexstar and Mission’s revenues for this list. The same holds true for Sinclair, a little further down the list, which has similar agreements with TV stations owned by Stephen Mumblow and Cunningham Broadcasting.
Gray Television, which was the number two station group in 2020 and number three in 2021, moves back to the #2 spot in 2022. Gray had 2022 total revenues of $3.06 billion ($2.0 billion advertising/$1.5 billion retrans revenues), up from $2.6 billion ($1.5 billion advertising/$1.1 billion retrans revenues) in 2021.
Last year we had Standard General in 2nd place thanks to its pending acquisition of Tegna. However, that deal fell apart in May after the FCC refused to vote on the deal. As such, Tegna is now back in 3rd place with $3.2 billion in total revenue ($1.7 billion in advertising revenue and $1.5 billion in estimated retransmission revenue), up from $2.7 billion ($1.3 billion in advertising and $1.4 billion in retransmission).
Sinclair remained in 4th place in 2022. Sinclair had total revenue of $3.2 billion in 2022 ($1.6 billion advertising revenue/$1.66 billion retrans revenue), up from $2.5 billion in 2021 ($932 million advertising revenue/$1.6 billion retrans revenue). Sinclair’s total revenues are boosted by the 2nd highest retrans revenue of any group owner on the list, and is the only group owner on the list whose retrans revenue is higher than their advertising revenue.
The next four station group owners are the broadcast networks with their O&O (owned & operated) TV stations: Fox Television (5th with $2.8 billion total), Paramount/CBS TV (6th with $2.6 billion), Comcast/NBC (7th with $2.3 billion), and ABC/Disney (8th with nearly $1.7 billion).
Rounding out the top 10 station owners list are Hearst Television, Inc. and EW Scripps Co., who swapped places from 2021. Hearst Television had $1.54 billion in total revenues, while Scripps was close behind with nearly $1.5 billion.
According to BIA’s Nicole Ovadia, Vice President of Forecasting and Analysis, “2022 political spending was higher than expected, which helped boost many TV station group revenues. As we head into what will no doubt be the highest political spending season in US history, those groups with stations in battleground states and markets will also feel a bump in 2023 and a huge boost in 2024.”
Retransmission consent agreement revenues have had a profound impact on station owners’ total revenues. Its retransmission revenue boosted Sinclair’s position on the list. Just looking at advertising revenue, without estimated retransmission revenues, Nexstar, Gray and Tegna would remain on top, but Sinclair would fall to 6th place, behind Fox and CBS.
BIA provided the top 30 station groups to TVNewsCheck for its annual posting. You can view the full list here.
*BIA estimates retransmission consent revenues at the station level, as this information is typically not publicly disclosed by the stations, the owners, or the MVPDs. BIA’s estimates are based on publicly available information.