NAB 2011 And The Investment Banker’s View of the Broadcast Technology Industry

Posted by Joe Zaller
Mar 29 2011

The 2011 NAB show is less than two weeks away and there appears to be a feeling of optimism in the industry, something that has been lacking for the past year or two.  The economy is seemingly healthier, the financial performance of both broadcasters and technology vendors has improved, and digital media is a hot topic across many industries as companies roll out plans to bring video and audio content to a growing number of platforms and devices. 

The pre-NAB period is typically when expectations are set for the year, as both customers and vendors reveal their respective buying and selling plans. So far there have been year there have been some interesting articles written about what customers are shopping for at the show, what new technologies are on display and of course the most important trends in the broadcast industry in 2011.  

But there’s another group of industry observers who also have an interesting view on the outlook for the broadcast industry – investment bankers and private equity firms – and this year there appears to be more interest than usual from these players.

So what do investment bankers think about the broadcast industry, and what are their objectives for the NAB show?  In a word: deals. 

At this year’s NAB show, bankers and PE players should have plenty to keep them busy.

Video and audio technologies have become strategic to many companies outside of the traditional broadcast business, so bankers will use the NAB show as a way to find companies that might add value to a larger enterprise or a portfolio of companies.

Within the traditional broadcast industry, the improving economy has increased speculation about broadcast vendor M&A and consolidation.

Indeed, as shown below, our most recent research of senior executives at broadcast technology vendors reveals that while about a third of companies intend to retain their private status, many others expect to be involved in some sort of strategic transaction within the next 2-3 years. 

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Recently Covington Associates and Silverwood Partners, two investment banks that focus on the broadcast and digital media industries, published pre-NAB “teaser” documents for their clients and prospects.

Covington’s pre-NAB market analysis provides a concise overview of macro drivers in the industry and highlights recent digital media M&A activity.  This is (as far as I know) the first time that Covington has published a pre-NAB industry analysis, presumably driven their recently enlarged digital media team, which marries former industry executives and investment banking expertise.

Silverwood has been consistency active in the broadcast industry for the past decade, and typically publishes a report before and after major industry trade shows. You can read their pre-NAB 2010 document here, their pre-IBC2010 document here, and their IBC 2010 Post-Show Perspectives here. 

Silverwood’s 39-page pre-NAB 2011 document takes an in-depth approach.  It covers trends in the digital media industry, recent financial performance by vendors, macro industry drivers, the accelerated pace of change in the broadcast technology space, the “3D hype cycle,” and the way customers are changing their commercial focus and broadcast technology procurement plans as their revenue models shift towards “new media.”

Silverwood ends their deck with an interesting section on broadcast industry IPO, PE and M&A transactions, and why company valuations may differ, based on a number of factors. In doing they are seeking to balance creating excitement about M&A, and setting realistic expectations about valuations.

Overall both are worth reading, regardless of whether you are a vendor, broadcaster, or independent industry observer.  They provide a perspective that is sometimes missing when people discuss the broadcast business. 

At the end of the day the broadcast industry is a business; so when you head off to the NAB show, make sure you understand what both technology and financial people are thinking.

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Related Content:

Covington Associates: 2011 NAB Show Overview

Silverwood Partners: 2011 NAB Show Strategic Industry Analysis

Broadcasting & Cable Article: Gearing up for NAB 2011

Broadcast Industry’s Most Comprehensive Market Study Reveals Top Trends of 2011

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