Kaching! QVC11/25/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern
The media business, they used to say, was a license to print money. In 2001, that is still true, though nothing like the old days, when the money machines were humming and profit margins soared.
This year, the presses slowed and denominations decreased, particularly after Sept. 11.
In BROADCASTING & CABLE 's annual Top 25 Networks list for the year 2001, nine of the charmed 25 counted less total revenue than they did in 2000, and five had only modest single-digit increases.
And, to give you an idea how oddly the television business worked in 2001, one of the top-gaining networks was QVC, the shopping channel that now has revenue ($3.6 billion) almost equal to great big NBC's ($3.8 billion, down nearly $1 billion from last year's survey).
Things aren't all doom and gloom, though. Lifetime television, partially owned by Disney, had revenue of $500 million in 2000 and will book $715 million this year, a 30% increase. The Disney Channel is doing even better ($753 million, up 35%). Those gains must be satisfying to Disney skipper Michael Eisner, who saw the ABC network's revenue slip $1 billion, to just under $3.4 billion.
The survey treats every network the same: broadcast, basic cable, pay cable or home shopping. The sole criterion was revenue, however generated.
Operating with just a fraction of the ratings and programming costs of their major broadcast rivals, cable networks are still tallying hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Compiled in mid November, this ranking is based on estimates of 2001 revenue. The ad market, of course, is volatile enough that actual results and ranking could be substantially different. Also, many network groups don't publicly detail revenues of individual channels, so securities filings offer limited information.
Much of the material in this report was gathered by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter media analyst Richard Bilotti and his staff. At many networks, executives either offered their own figures or said they were "comfortable" with the ones we provided. When Bilotti could not or the network would not provide information, we did some sleuthing and, in some cases, developed our own estimate.
To maintain the cover of those networks that cooperated, the list does not specify the source of any particular number. Household-viewing information is based on year-to-date Nielsen averages.
Network information was compiled by P. Llanor Alleyne.
|Top 25 Networks|
|* Estimated 2001 revenue in millions
** Change from B&C's 2000 estimates
— = Not available
Source: Broadcasting & Cable and analyst Richard Bilotti