In the hit HBO show “Succession,” fictional TV mogul Logan Roy wants to buy local TV stations even though his kids tell him the industry is dead.
In real life, there are plenty of potential buyers who agree with Roy instead of his children.
Apollo Global Management, Providence Equity Partners and Blackstone Group LP are among the private equity firms interested in acquiring local TV assets, according to people familiar with the matter. Their targets could include Nexstar Media Group, Tribune Media, Sinclair Broadcast Group and 14 stations being sold by Cox Enterprises, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. No deals are imminent, cautioned the people.
Local TV stations are prime targets for private equity buyouts because they are reliable cash generators that require little capital expenditure. This allows buyout firms to put a lot of debt on the companies and deleverage quickly. 2018 should be a strong year for the industry driven by midterm election political advertising.
Potential targets may also see a reason to sell. The bear case for local TV is straightforward — each year fewer people watch television than the year before. That will affect retransmission revenue — the money collected from pay-TV operators for airing their stations — which is largely based on total eyeballs.
Blackstone and Providence declined to comment. An Apollo spokesperson could not immediately be reached.
Apollo has already approached Nexstar about an acquisition, Reuters reported on July 11. Since that initial approach, Sinclair’s acquisition of Tribune Media collapsed after the Federal Communications Commission blocked the deal.
That’s led Nexstar, which has an enterprise value of nearly $8 billion, to consider buying instead of selling, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking.
Nexstar bought Media General for $4.6 billion in January 2017. The company then bid for Tribune l