Thanks largely to Gray Television’s $3.8 billion deal for Raycom Media, broadcast television M&A enjoyed its busiest quarter since 2007, according to S&P Global’s Kagan.
The firm tracked $5.1 billion in total M&A for the U.S. broadcast sector, and the majority of that stemmed from TV deals. Most of the M&A activity was tied to Gray’s deal, which Kagan valued at $3.44 billion. That total makes it the eighth-largest U.S. TV station deal of all time and the largest since last year's merger of Tribune Media Company and Sinclair Broadcast Group, according to the firm.
Most of the other broadcast TV M&A originated from Sinclair’s various spinoffs carried out to win regulatory approval for its $3.9 billion Tribune deal. Sinclair sold a station in March for $60 million, and 22 more stations were sold to five different buyers in April and May to meet FCC ownership caps. Kagan estimates those five deals are worth a total of $1.48 billion.
Twenty-First Century Fox bought seven stations for $910 million, Standard Media Group bought nine stations for $441.7 million, Meredith bought one station for $65 million, Howard Stirk Holdings bought three stations for $4.95 million, and two licenses were transferred to local marketing agreement partner Cunningham Broadcasting Corporation for $60 million.
“Aside from those few large deals, the deal market displayed a rather slow pace. Excluding the Sinclair spin-offs and Gray's deal for Raycom, the total deal volume would have been the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2016, amounting to just $185.8 million,” Kagan said.
Also of note during the quarter was Gray's $32.5 million purchase of KDLT-TV in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, from Red River Broadcast, and the $11.5 million sale of WMDE-DT in Washington, D.C., from Western Pacific Broadcast to WRNN-TV Associates.