Companies in this industry broadcast television programs for free to the public. The major US broadcast TV networks, often referred to as the Big Four, are ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC; leading companies based outside the US include the British Broadcasting Corporation, Japan Broadcasting Corporation, RTL Group (Luxembourg), and ProSiebenSat1 Media (Germany).
Global TV revenues from broadcast advertising, subscriptions, and public funding total some $225 billion, according to Ofcom and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The US has the highest TV revenue per capita, followed by Germany and the UK.
In the US the television broadcast industry includes about 2,200 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of more than $55 billion. Both broadcast networks and individual stations are included in the industry. TV cable networks are covered in a separate industry profile.
Broadcast television is also known as terrestrial television (primarily in Europe) or over-the-air television (OTA). The industry doesn't include companies that broadcast primarily on the internet, produce and sell taped TV programs, distribute cable and other pay TV programs, or use TV as a retail outlet.
Advertising spending, program popularity, and consumer demographics drive demand. The profitability of individual companies depends on programming mix and efficient operations. Large companies have advantages of economies of scale in production and distribution. Small companies can compete effectively with special programming that attracts a targeted audience. The US industry is highly concentrated: the top 50 companies account for more than 85% of revenue.
TV broadcasters compete for advertiser dollars with a variety of other media, including radio, outdoor display, newspapers, magazines, direct mail, and internet sites. Broadcast television was the dominant method of television delivery until cable television gained prominence in the 1970s; as such, cable is a major competitor for TV viewership.
More recently, internet streaming services from companies such as Amazon and Netflix have emerged as a source of competition, though broadcast networks may also consider such outlets to be a potential partner for distributing their content. (A number of broadcasters also engage in content production, generating additional revenue from licensing and syndication.)
Products, Operations & Technology
National and regional over-the-air advertising accounts for about 60% of revenue for the industry in the US, local ads for about 20%. Other revenue sources
Sales & Marketing
Finance & Regulation
Regional & International Issues
Also includes the following chapters:
Quarterly Industry Update
Trends and Opportunities
Call Preparation Questions
Glossary of Acronyms