We Are Seeing Consolidations in Free Over-the-Air TV




Over-the-air TV was almost forgotten just a few years ago. With most Americans getting their TV from a pay TV provider the fact that you could use an antenna to get local TV for free was not often thought about.

Now with the growth in cord cutting, over-the-air TV is once again in the minds of both Americans and business executives.

Back in 2004 the top five over-the-air TV owners Sinclair, Nextar, Gray, Tegna, and Tribune owned about 179 full-powered TV stations. That number jumped to 378 in 2014 and 443 in 2016.

Now that deal is about to get even bigger with Sinclair buying Tribune to bring its total up to 208 from 166 and Nextar buying Media General bringing its channel lineup to 171 up from 104.

This brings a lot of uncertainty to cord cutting. While companies like Sinclair have long been supportive of cord cutting, it is unknown what the future will bring as more companies see over-the-air TV as a way to be profitable.

We are also seeing a push for local independently owned affiliates from networks such as ABC, CBS, and NBC agree to group bargaining for deals with streaming services. This is likely to mean an increase in the number of local channels available on services such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DIRECTV NOW, and Hulu’s new beta service.

As over-the-air TV companies such as Sinclair grow, it gives them a bigger voice to push for more friendly over-the-air TV terms. Hopefully this will result in better deals for cord cutters.

Source: Pew Research Center 

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