Iger sees retrans/reverse comp growing to a half billion bucks


Retransmission consent payments from cable/satellite operators are a fast-growing second revenue stream for TV stations and Disney/ABC is no exception. As he reported on fiscal Q3 results, isney CEO Bob Iger (pictured) said the company had struck retrans deals with several major cable/satellite operators for its ABC O&O stations and had completed reverse comp deals with station owners covering about 60% of ABC’s affiliate footprint.

“To give you some perspective on what this means financially, we now expect annual revenues streams to total between $400 million and $500 million by fiscal 2015,” Iger told analysts. (Fiscal 2012 begins in less than two months.) The CEO did not offer a split of how much of those revenues will come from the O&Os and how much from affiliates.

Expanding on fiscal Q3 numbers for the television operation, CFO Jay Rasulo said revenues for the ABC O&O TV stations were down 8% “as a result of lower political spending in the quarter and the sale of our Flint and Toledo stations.” Excluding those items, he said revenues at the O&Os were up 2%.

How’s business now? “Thus far in Q4 ABC Network scatter pricing is running more than 25% above Upfront levels, with some deals priced well above that level. Ad sales at ESPN and ABC Family are pacing up versus prior year. TV station ad sales are pacing down mid-single digits. I’ll remind you that our stations generated approximately $55 million in revenue from political spending in the second half of last year, so station results in Q4 face a difficult comparison,” Rasulo said of current pacings.