In market trading immediately following the Supreme Court decision’s 6-3 ruling against upstart video-streaming platform Aereo, broadcast companies big and small had a banner day. While the ruling by the country’s highest court does not spell the death of illicit video-on-demand platforms, it did allow the old guard to breathe a sigh of relief and buy them time to figure out their next move.
Mega-giant CBS (CBS) scored big in the aftermath, rising 5.8 percent in value on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling against Aereo. While the major players who initially brought the suit, which included CBS, FOX (NWSA) , NBC (CMCSA) , and ABC (DIS) , and Spanish language Univision – were obvious beneficiaries, so were the smaller components that make up the rest of the traditional media sector. Particularly the conglomerates who own the various local affiliates of the Big Four and are much more directly affected by decisions affecting TV viewership than their well-diversified parent companies.
Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) and Nexstar Broadcasting Group (NXST) gained 14.3 percent and 13.88 percent, respectively, leading the sector’s charge. Media General (MEG) and Journal Communications (JRN) also saw share rise significantly on the day’s action.
Another notable beneficiary of the Supreme Court’s decision was Gray Television (GTN) , a conglomerate that owns several local affiliates scattered throughout the Midwest and Southeastern US regions. Gray Television is an Equities.com Small-Cap Stars, noted by our analysts for possessing unusually strong fundamentals that are often indicative of a chance for future growth. Gray rose 8.35 percent on the day to hit $12.20 a share.
In 2013 Gray Television was the best performer in the entire Services sector compenent of the Small-Cap Stars index, more than doubling in value over the course of the year. The favorable ruling certainly looks to bolster their station's Nielsen numbers, and thus revenue, in the near future.
Reading the Static
The Supreme Court siding with TV over video streaming is certainly a moral victory for the establishment, but by no means signals the end of video-streaming upstarts. It does, however, give deep-pocketed old media space to figure out how to take advantage of the sea change in how content is consumed, while simultaneously forcing new media like Aereo back to the drawing board.
Aereo lacks a “Plan B,” according to Aereo CEO Chet Kanijia. One option that is open to Aereo is to adopt the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” strategy. Aereo’s technology is what frightened the broadcast industry. The Supreme Court did not being the hammer down on Aereo's video-sharing platform technology, but merely asserted that said platform violated US copyright law.
This leaves open the possibility that a broadcast company could eventually acquire Aereo, and thus take advantage of the technology favored by an increasingly larger swath of the populace, all while neutralizing a potentially disruptive former foe.
Barring the simultaneous retirement of two Supreme Court justices the court's 6-3 vote looks to stand for some time. Whether Aereo subsequently withers or is subsumed by a larger broadcast rival, in either scenario TV looks to be the clear winner. Investors will have to stay tuned to see exactly what move they make next. But aside from sitting on the couch and doing nothing at all, for the time being the establishment looks to remain as such.
As long as both the networks like CBS and affiliate owners like Gray can continue to bring in solid revenues, their futures look far less threatened than before. Media issues lawyer John Hanes told the Wall Street Journal that the ruling "is good for everybody whose business is in creating and distributing content legitimately,” and for big and small companies alike, the market has definitely agreed.
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