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Biggest Still Holding Their Own

Broadcast nets see 2.7% drop in revenue as QVC threatens to take top spot 12/01/2002 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Earlier this year, it seemed that it might happen: As the broadcast networks struggled with a difficult ad climate, a number of analysts predicted that home shopping network QVC might bring in more revenue than any other television channel in America.

In the end, the broadcast nets' healthier-than-expected fall upfront market allowed NBC to keep its position as No. 1 on Broadcasting & Cable's annual ranking of the top 25 television networks.

Even with that upfront bounce, NBC will see its revenues drop 5.7%, allowing QVC to close the gap.

And NBC wasn't the only struggling broadcaster. Three of the six broadcasters on this year's list will see declining revenue, with ABC's estimated revenue dropping by a whopping 14.9%. Although Fox will see revenue climb 13.5% and CBS will show a modest 3% increase, the six broadcasters on the top-25 list will see combined revenue drop 2.7%, from $14.14 billion in 2001 to $13.75 billion in 2002.

Despite the turmoil in the economy and the ad market, there are relatively few changes to this year's ranking. Among the top 10, Fox moved ahead of HBO this year to No. 6. Fox News Channel made the list for the first time, at No. 24, but Fox Sports Net dropped off the list.

Overall, the 25 networks ranked here are on track to increase their 2002 revenues to $35.08 billion, a 3.7% increase from $33.82 billion in 2001. All of that growth can be attributed to the relatively healthy state of cable and satellite programmers. The 19 cable and satellite networks on this year's list will boost their revenue to $21.33 billion, a healthy 8.3% increase from their $19.69 billion in 2001 revenue.

Among the cable networks, only CNBC, which remains in a slump like the stock market it follows, will see a revenue drop this year. Nine cable networks will experience double-digit increases, with Starz! Revenue growing by 26.1%, the fastest of any network.

As in prior years, the rankings are based on estimated 2002 revenue. These were compiled from industry executives; Wall Street analysts Morgan Stanley's Richard Bilotti, Sanford C. Bernstein's Tom Wolzien, Bear Stearns's Ray Katz and Merrill Lynch's Jessica Reif-Cohen; Kagan Media; and company reports.

The viewership figure shown on the top-25 list that follows is an average for households in prime time season-to-date, Sept. 23-Nov. 19.

The data were compiled by Deputy Editor John M. Higgins.

RANK/NETWORK REV.* ($ Millions) CHNG.** (%)
* Estimated 2002
** From B&C's 2001 estimates
Source: BROADCASTING & CABLE research, industry and company reports
1 NBC 4,110 -5.7
2 QVC 3,770 +4.7
3 CBS 3,590 +3.0
4 ABC 2,890 -14.9
5 ESPN 2,120 +1.5
6 Fox 2,100 +13.5
7 HBO 2,050 +10.3
8 HSN 1,790 +14.9
9 TNT 1,210 +13.8
10 Nick 1,090 +7.9
11 Showtime 989 +9.3
12 USA 940 +14.2
13 MTV 847 +11.4
14 CNN 823 +10.5
15 Disney 810 +7.0
16 TBS 799 +7.8
17 Lifetime 790 +10.5
18 Discovery 620 +0.8
19 The WB 589 -3.6
20 Starz! 580 +26.1
21 A&E 550 +1.9
22 CNBC 539 -0.9
23 Cinemax 522 +4.4
24 Fox News 490 +19.5
25 Univision 480 +9.1

1 NBC
2002 revenue: $4.10 billion
Owner: General Electric
Top executive: Robert Wright, chairman and CEO
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 99.9%
Viewership: 8.95M
2 QVC
2002 revenue: $3.77 billion
Owner: Comcast and Liberty Media
Top executive: Douglas S. Briggs, president/CEO
Programming: Electronic retailing
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 81.8M
Viewership: Not applicable
3 CBS
2002 revenue: $3.59 billion
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Leslie Moonves, president/CEO
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 99.9%
Viewership: 9.28M
4 ABC
2002 revenue: $2.89 billion
Owner: The Walt Disney Co.
Top executive: Alex Wallau, president
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 99.9%
Viewership: 6.84M
5 ESPN
2002 revenue: $2.12 billion
Owner: Disney and The Hearst Corp.
Top executive: George Bodenheimer, president
Programming: Sports
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.9 million
Viewership: 1.71M
6 FOX
2002 revenue: $2.10 billion
Owner: News Corp.
Top executive: Sandy Grushow, chairman, Fox Television Entertainment Group
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 97.63%
Viewership: 6.64M
7 HBO
2002 revenue: $2.05 billion
Owner: Time Warner Entertainment
Top executive: Chris Albrecht, chairman/CEO
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Pay cable
TV homes reached: 33.3M
Viewership: 1.78M
8 HSN
2002 revenue: $1.79 billion
Owner: USA Interactive
Top executive: Mark Bozek, chairman/CEO
Programming: Retail shopping
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 83M
Viewership: Not available
9 TNT
2002 revenue: $1.21 billion
Owner: AOL Time Warner
Top executive: Steve Koonin, EVP/GM
Programming: Dramatic entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.5M
Viewership: 1.40M
10 NICKELODEON
2002 revenue: $1.09 billion
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Herb Scannell, president
Programming: Children-oriented, daytime; adults 18-49, prime time
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.3M
Viewership: 1.41M
11 SHOWTIME
2002 revenue: $989 million
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Matthew Blank, chairman/CEO
Programming: Movies, series, sports
Type: Premium television
TV homes reached: 22.0M
Viewership: Not available
12 USA
2002 revenue: $940 million
Owner: Vivendi Universal Entertainment
Top executive: Doug Herzog, president
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.5M
Viewership: 1.32M
13 MTV
2002 revenue: $847 million
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Van Toffler, president
Programming: Music-oriented
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 84.8M
Viewership: 721,000
14 CNN
2002 revenue: $823 million
Owner: AOL Time Warner
Top executive: Walter Isaacson, chairman/CEO, CNN News Group
Programming: National and international news
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.7M
Viewership: 855,000
15 Disney
2002 revenue: $810 million
Owner: Walt Disney Co.
Top executive: Anne Sweeney, president, Disney Channel Worldwide
Programming: Kids and family entertainment
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 80.4M
Viewership: 1.11M
16 TBS
2002 revenue: $799 million
Owner: AOL Time Warner
Top executive: Dennis Quinn, EVP/GM
Programming: General entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.2M
Viewership: 1.21M
17 Lifetime
2002 revenue: $790 million
Owner: Disney and Hearst
Top executive: Carole Black, president/CEO
Programming: Women-oriented general entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.0M
Viewership: 1.57M
18 Discovery
2002 revenue: $620 million
Owner: Discovery Comm.
Top executive: William Campbell, president, Discovery Networks
Programming: Science-oriented entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.9M
Viewership: 819,000
19 The WB
2002 revenue: $589 million
Owner: AOL Time Warner and Tribune
Top executive: Jed Petrick, president/COO, The WB
Programming: Prime time general entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 88%
Viewership: 3.19M
20 STARZ!
2002 revenue: $580 million
Owner: Liberty Media Corp.
Top executive: John J. Sie, founder/chairman/CEO
Programming: Movies
Type: Pay cable and satellite
Viewership: Not available
21 A&E
2002 revenue: $550 million
Owner: Hearst Corp., ABC, NBC
Top executive: Abbe Raven, EVP/GM
Programming: Drama, original movies, documentaries
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.2M
Viewership: 742,000
22 CNBC
2002 revenue: $539 million
Owner: General Electric
Top executive: Pamela Thomas-Graham, president/CEO
Programming: Business news
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 84.1M
Viewership: 178,000
23 CINEMAX
2002 revenue: $522 million
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Chris Albrecht, chairman/CEO
Programming: Movies
Type: Pay cable
TV homes reached: 22.0M
Viewership: 471,000
24 Fox News
2002 revenue: $490 million
Owner: Fox Entertainment
Top executive: Roger Ailes, chairman/CEO
Programming: National and international news
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 81.0M
Viewership: 1.13M
25 Univision
2002 revenue: $480 million
Owner: Univision Comm.
Top executive: Ray Rodriguez, president/COO
Programming: Spanish-language entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 97% of Hispanic homes
Viewership: 1.84M

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