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Still Strutting After All These Years

Although NBC remains No. 1, CBS is close behind 12/12/2004 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Most of NBC's new shows flopped. The network no longer rules Thursday
night. Even the once lowly ABC topped NBC during the November sweeps.

The Ranking
By 2004 revenue ($million)
Rank Network 2003 2004 Chng.
SOURCE:
B&C research; industry and company reports
1 NBC $4,461 $5,062 +13.5%
2 CBS $4,050 $4,449 +9.9%
3 QVC $3,845 $4,150 +7.9%
4 ABC $3,190 $3,325 +4.2%
5 ESPN $2,869 $3,223 +12.3%
6 Fox $2,244 $2,405 +7.2%
7 HBO $2,200 $2,398 +9.0%
8 HSN $1,660 $1,880 +13.3%
9 TNT $1,312 $1,590 +21.2%
10 Nick $1,150 $1,300 +13.0%
11 MTV $975 $1,150 +17.9%
12 USA $850 $990 +16.5%
13 TBS $871 $985 +13.1%
14 Disney $910 $977 +7.4%
15 CNN $876 $887 +1.3%
16 Lifetime $820 $850 +3.7%
17 Discovery $705 $824 +16.9%
18 Showtime $816 $800 -1.9%
19 The WB $660 $700 +6.1%
20 Fox News $600 $675 +12.5%
21 ShopNBC $616 $646 +4.9%
22 A&E $589 $620 +5.3%
23 Cinemax $580 $605 +4.3%
24 Univision $568 $591 +4.0%
25 FX $510 $575 +12.7%

But the Peacock is still No. 1 where it counts: money.

The network will finish 2004 at the top of
B&C's annual ranking of the 25 largest TV networks, a
slot it has held since 2000. NBC's revenues are growing sharply this year, up
by $600 million, or 13.5%, to $5.1 billion.

To NBC Chairman Bob Wright, that's what matters. Wright notes that the
network business isn't just prime time, that Katie Couric and Jay Leno add a
cushion or two. When prime time ad sales get rocky, Today
and The Tonight Show help soften the blow.

"People forget that we have great strength in early morning, great
strength at late night and even in daytime," Wright says. "That's why I never
seem to be overly concerned about this issue."

B&C estimates revenue each year to show where money really flows in
the TV business. We print each week who's winning and losing in Nielsens,
which are so crucial to generating selling commercials. But while advertising
is by far the major force, it's by no means the only one. Three of the 10
largest networks sell no advertising at all: shopping networks QVC and Home
Shopping Network and pay movie channel Home Box Office. ESPN's average
audience is just a fraction of ABC's, but the two networks' revenues are
nearly equal because the cable sports network collects giant license fees from
cable and DBS operations while ABC is dependent solely on advertising.

Fox News' audience is nearly double that of rival CNN. But CNN's
license fees are higher, so the news network takes in 31% more money than Fox
News.

The Top 25 networks represent 79% of the $52 billion that TV programmers
are expected to generate this year. The fastest-growing network is TNT, which
rode the wave of Law & Order and strong
theatrical movies for a 21.2% increase to $1.6 billion. Other big gainers are
MTV, Discovery Channel and Home Shopping Network.

NBC may not keep first place for long. No. 2 CBS is close, generating
$4.5 billion this year and on track to becoming the top network in both viewers
and the key 18-49 demo.

NBC, meanwhile, must face a new year with no Olympics. The Olympics
generated a healthy $900 million in ad sales for the network during August,
normally a slow season. NBC sales will almost certainly go down during a
non-Olympics year.

Moreover, NBC's current audience slide didn't really start until
September, so 2004 results will include just four months of rocky ratings.
Unless its schedule changes dramatically, NBC faces a full 12 months of
problems next year.

Third-ranked is home-shopping network QVC. Using its airtime to pitch
consumers directly rather than selling advertising, QVC generates more sales
than broadcasters ABC and Fox or even cable powerhouses like HBO and ESPN. When
the ad slump was crunching broadcast networks, QVC was the second-largest
network and seemed poised to jump to No. 1. The shopping network, however, has
grown only modestly in the past two years and now sits behind CBS.

FX enters the list for the first time this year, increasing revenues by
12.7% to $575 million. The network has generated acclaim and high ratings from
hit original series Nip/Tuck and
Rescue Me. But most of the revenue gain
comes from basic cable's old standby, stronger theatrical movies.

The biggest loser falls off the list: TLC. The cable network entered the
rankings last year on the strength of Trading
Spaces.
But that show has faded, and TLC's audience has plunged
35%. The network is paying the price of relying too heavily on the whole
makeover genre, then having nothing as strong when it abruptly went stale. TLC
ran Trading Spaces 10 and more times weekly
and spawned half a dozen “surprise” makeover imitators. More networks got
in the game, and Trading Spaces abruptly
lost its steam, sliding from a 4.0 average Nielsen household rating to a
1.5.

“It was doing record ratings just six months ago,” says Billy
Campbell, president of Discovery Networks. “Saturation just hit.”

Campbell notes that the show is still fairly strong by basic-cable
standards and TLC has new programs in the works aimed at lifting ratings.

1 NBC

2004 revenue: $5.1 billion
Owner: General Electric
Top executive: Bob Wright, vice
chairman, GE; chairman/CEO, NBC Universal
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 108.0 million
Average audience: 13.3 million

2 CBS

2004 revenue: $4.45 billion
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Leslie Moonves,
co-president, Viacom/chairman, CBS
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 108.0 million
Average audience: 13.3 million

3 QVC

2004 revenue: $4.2 billion
Owner: Liberty Media
Top executive: Douglas S. Briggs,
CEO
Programming: Electronic retailing
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 85.9 million
Average audience: Not applicable

4 ABC

2004 revenue: $3.3 billion
Owner: The Walt Disney Co.
Top executive: Anne Sweeney,
president, Disney-ABC Television Group
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 108 million
Average audience: 10.1 million

5 ESPN

2004 revenue: $3.2 billion
Owner: Disney and The Hearst
Corp.
Top executive: George Bodenheimer,
president, ESPN/ABC Sports
Programming: Sports
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 89.3 million
Average audience: 2.6 million

6 FOX

2004 revenue: $2.41 billion
Owner: News Corp.
Top executive: Tony Vinciquerra,
president, Fox Networks Group
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 106.0 million
Average audience: 9.8 million

7 HBO

2004 revenue: $2.4 billion
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Chris Albrecht,
chairman/CEO
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Pay cable
TV homes reached: 27.0 million
Average audience: 893,000

8 HSN

2004 revenue: $1.9 billion
Owner: Interactive Corp.
Top executive: Marty Nealon,
president
Programming: Retail shopping
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 81.1 million
Average audience: Not available

9 TNT

2004 revenue: $1.6 billion
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Steve Koonin, EVP/COO,
TBS/TNT
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.9 million
Average audience: 2.1 million

10 Nickelodeon

2004 revenue: $1.3 billion
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Cyma Zarghami,
president, Nickelodeon Television
Programming: Children-oriented,
daytime; adults 18-49, prime time
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.7 million
Average audience: 1.8 million

11 MTV

2004 revenue: $1.15 billion
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Van Toffler,
president
Programming: Music-oriented
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 86.8 million
Average audience: 963,000

12 USA

2004 revenue: $990 million
Owner: Vivendi Universal
Entertainment
Top executive: Bonnie Hammer,
president
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 89 million
Average audience: 2.1 million

13 TBS

2004 revenue: $985 million
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Steve Koonin, EVP/COO,
TBS/TNT
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.8 million
Average audience: 1.6 million

14 Disney

2004 revenue: $977 million
Owner: Walt Disney Co.
Top executive: Rich Ross, president,
Disney Channel
Programming: Kids and family
entertainment
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 85 million
Average Audience: 1.9 million

15 CNN

2004 revenue: $887 million
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Jonathan Klein,
president, CNN/U.S.
Programming: National and
international news
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 87.6 million
Average audience: 1.0 million

16 Lifetime

2004 revenue: $850 million
Owner: Disney and Hearst
Top executive: Carole Black,
president/CEO
Programming: Women-oriented general
entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.5 million
Average audience: 1.7 million

17 Discovery

2004 revenue: $824 million
Owner: Discovery Communications
Top executive: Billy Campbell,
president, Discovery Networks
Programming: Science-oriented
entertainment
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 88.3 million
Average audience: 1.1 million

18 Showtime

2004 revenue: $800 million
Owner: Viacom
Top executive: Matthew Blank,
chairman/CEO
Programming: Movies, series,
sports
Type: Premium television
TV homes reached: 12.4 million
Average audience: 153,000

19 The WB

2004 revenue: $700 million
Owner: Time Warner and Tribune
Top executive: Garth Ancier,
chairman, The WB
Programming: Prime time general
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 95.1 million
Average audience: 3.9 million

20 Fox News

2004 revenue: $675 million
Owner: Fox Entertainment
Top executive: Roger Ailes,
chairman/CEO
Programming: National and
international news
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 84.8 million
Average audience: 2.4 million

21 ShopNBC

2004 revenue: $646 million
Owner: ValueVision and NBC
Top executive: William Lansing,
president /CEO
Programming: Home shopping
Type: Basic cable
TV homes reached: 55.3 million
Average audience: Not available

22 A&E

2004 revenue: $620 million
Owner: Hearst Corp., ABC, NBC
Top executive: Abbe Raven,
president
Programming: Drama, original movies,
documentaries
Type: Ad-supported cable
TV homes reached: 87.8 million
Average audience: 1.1 million

23 Cinemax

2004 revenue: $605 million
Owner: Time Warner
Top executive: Chris Albrecht,
chairman/CEO
Programming: Movies
Type: Pay cable
TV homes reached: 12.0 million
Average audience: Not available

24 Univision

2004 revenue: $591 million
Owner: Univision Communications
Top executive: Ray Rodriguez,
president, Univision TV Networks
Programming: Spanish-language
entertainment
Type: Broadcast
TV homes reached: 80 million
Average audience: 3.4 million

25 FX

2004 revenue: $575 million
Owner: Fox Entertainment
Top executive: Peter Liguori,
president/CEO
Programming: General
entertainment
Type: Cable
TV homes reached: 80 million
Average audience: 1.1 million

Here's how we compile the data: We consult industry
executives and research analysts, including Morgan Stanley's Richard Bilotti,
Bear Stearns' Ray Katz and Sanford Bernstein's Tom Wolzien; Kagan Media;
and company reports. Many networks offer guidance. The audience figure shown is
the average number of prime time viewers age 2 and older season-to-date,
through November.

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