Broadcast television M&A had its biggest year since 2013, according to Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The firm said that broadcast M&A totaled more than $8 billion—$8.87 billion when factoring in radio station deals. That total was driven up by significant activity during the fourth quarter totaling $4.31 billion.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, Nexstar Media announced it would acquire all of Tribune Media's assets for $46.50 per share, which Kagan estimates to be worth $3.51 billion.
The Nexstar-Tribune deal knocked Gray’s merger with Raycom down to second for the year. In the second quarter, Gray announced a $3.44 billion merger agreement with Raycom, a transaction that was recently approved by the FCC.
Other major deals from 2018 include: Cordillera Communications selling all but one of its TV stations to E.W. Scripps for $521 million; Cordillera selling its last station to Quincy Media for $70 million; Quincy Media buying WSIL-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Paducah, Kentucky-Cape Girardeau, Missouri-Harrisburg-Mt. Vernon, Illinois, market, for $24.5 million; and E.W. Scripps buying independent TV station WHDT in the West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Florida, market from Marksteiner AG Inc. for $25 million.
The more than $8 billion in broadcast television M&A is the highest it’s been since 2013, when Kagan estimated it totaled nearly $11.4 billion.
Although 2018 saw some substantial broadcast consolidation take place, the year also witnessed Sinclair’s proposed $3.76 billion acquisition of Tribune Media dissolve under heightened FCC scrutiny over divestitures.