Gray Television, Paramount renew CBS affiliate deal

Gray Television signed a renewed deal with Paramount Global covering the broadcaster’s CBS affiliates across all existing 54 markets.

The markets include seven that were acquired from Meredith Corp in 2021 and 47 legacy markets.

As part of the deal Gray’s CBS affiliates will remain on Paramount+, available locally to subscribers of the SVOD, and across all traditional and vMVPD platforms.

 “At a time when local news is more valued than ever – and under greater pressure than ever - Gray is very pleased to have reached an agreement that builds upon the decades-long relationship with CBS in dozens of markets, large and small,” said Pat LaPlatney, co-CEO of Gray Television, in a statement. “With this renewal, we intend to continue to invest in local news, weather and sports reporting, while bringing CBS’ premium programming to our local communities.”

Gray is the largest independent owner of CBS affiliates, with coverage across nearly 18% of U.S. TV households and 22 million households.

Gray acquired Meredith and Quincy Media roughly two years ago and since then has funneled more than $74 million in capital investment to those stations.  In the seven former Meredith CBS markets Gray launched local news bureaus and created more than 100 hours of additional locally produced news programming weekly.

In total Gray’s TV stations serve 113 markets, reaching around 36% of U.S. TV households.

As for renewing affiliate deals, Gray was among broadcasters who earlier this year pulled CBS affiliates from virtual MVPD Fubo after following a recommendation from the CBS affiliate board to reject a deal offered Paramount for vMVPDs. The affiliate board later endorsed a new agreement with Paramount, which was reported to last three years and include sports fees and advertising inventory units. That agreement saw CBS affiliates return to Fubo in late March and remain on other vMVPD services. CBS has over 200 affiliate stations, with owners including Nexstar Media, Gray, Sinclair, and E.W. Scripps.  

Some broadcasters, such as Nexstar, have expressed a desire for more direct negotiations when it comes to affiliate deals for vMVPDs rather than networks negotiating on behalf of CBS affiliates.

“We firmly believe that we should control our own destiny with regard to the virtual MVPDs, instead of allowing the network to negotiate on our behalf,” said Nexstar COO Tom Carter during Nexstar’s fourth quarter earnings call in late February. “Given the lack of regulation in the digital world, it’s important that we remain united as an industry.”

Carter went on to say that Nexstar “will not accept any deals that discount the value of our content our stations deliver to these platforms,” he added, noting that vMVPDs want local news and content because it’s a sought-after category from viewers.