SNL Kagan Confirms It: Radio Deals Slowest Since ’80s

By on Jan, 5 2017 with Comments 0

Like The Human League, John Cougar before he was Mellencamp, and the Ford Escort?

Then you may be a bit more comfortable with this sobering yet unsurprising conclusion from SNL Kagan: U.S. broadcast station mergers and acquisitions volume was $104.4 million during Q4 2016, and closed the year at $5.83 billion, the S&P Global Market Intelligence research arm notes.

Radio deal volume in fiscal year 2016 reached $522.6 million.

That’s the lowest year on record for radio station deals, dating back to 1982.

In Q4 2016, 92% of the U.S. broadcast station deal volume ($96.2 million) came from radio deals.

Due to the ongoing FCC quiet period on TV transactions as a result of the ongoing spectrum auction, the TV deal market registered a mere $8.2 million.

October was the busiest month for radio deals in Q4, with 79% of the total transactions taking place in that month.

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Following the optimistic outlook of the NAB Radio Show in Nashville on September 21-23, the month of October brought a surge of transactions, registering 11 deals above $1 million. All three top radio deals in Q4 also happened in the month of October.

The top deal of the fourth quarter (and the second-largest deal of the year) came in the wake of the Beasley/Greater Media merger. In August, Beasley placed three stations it bought in the Charlotte market into a trust to comply with FCC regulations. In October, Beasley sold the stations — WLNK-FM and WBT-AM & FM, together with its WFNZ-AM and an FM translator — to Entercom Communications for $24.0 million.

This equates to six-times cash flow, SNL Kagan notes.

In the absence of any other large deals, Beasley became not only the year’s top buyer but also the top seller by deal volume.

The fourth quarter of 2016 also brought the year’s largest single-station deal, which involved the same station as had the year’s top-ranked single-station deal at the time. Legendary KFWB-AM 980 in Los Angeles changed hands for the second time this year, delivering a $3.2 million profit to short-time owner Universal Media Access, which in February paid $8 million for the station. It intended to keep it, but could not refuse Lotus Communications’ $11.2 million offer.

A FRENZY OF TRANSLATOR TRANSACTIONS

Following the FCC’s AM Revitalization Act, the U.S. deal market experienced a surge of sales of FM translators.

In total, 489 FM translators and 447 translator construction permits sold for $31.9 million and $16.7 million, respectively. The total number of 936 translator stations and permits, more than twice as high as in 2015 (458), stands for 65% of all radio stations and permits sold in 2016.

About The Author: RBR+TVBR has been reporting on the business of broadcasting for nearly three decades. Beholden to no one, it is independently owned.

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