The television industry has undergone some serious changes over the past several years. Content producers and industry execs have needed to figure out ways to keep ratings up as viewers rapidly adapt new viewing habits. Technologies like YouTube and Hulu have fractured audiences into pixel-sized subscriber groups and fan bases. It looks like tech guru George Gilder was on to something when he envisioned "Life After Television"—or at least after The Big Three networks—more than two decades ago.
But, if private equity deal activity is any indication, the industry as a whole is keeping its head above water. Since the beginning of 2007, PE investors have backed 203 television-related companies based in the U.S. or Canada, according to the PitchBook Platform. Activity has cooled quite a bit since 2007, a year that marked both a healthier economy and an entertainment industry that hadn't yet been bombarded by the Internet. 67 TV-related companies took in PE financing that year, but deal activity from 2008 to 2012 dropped to an annual average of 26. 2013 looks like it will continue the trend.
A close look at the list shows just how influential the Internet has become for the industry. Dozens of deals were for telecommunications companies that wire in the content itself. B2C deals account for most of the activity since the beginning of 2007 with about 47%, and the IT industry isn't too far behind with 27%. Broken down even further, B2C media companies account for 41% of all PE deals in the timeframe, and communications & networking concerns account for about 21%.