TVNewsCheck has named Gray Television as its Station Group of the Year for 2016, citing its disciplined strategy of acquiring high-performing stations, its bold decision to bring national sales in-house and its technological innovations.
Assuming the $442.5 million acquisition of Schurz Communications broadcast stations closes as planned, Gray will own and operate 175 channels in 50 markets. With a reach of 8.5%, it ranks 15th on the TVNewsCheck–BIA/Kelsey Top 30 station group ranking.
“Despite the uncertainty facing all legacy media, Gray seized the opportunity to grow in 2015 by snapping up stations that fit strict criteria — nothing but strong stations in strong markets," said TVNewsCheck Editor Harry A. Jessell. "The Schurz deal epitomized the buying strategy."
Led by CEO Hilton Howell, Gray surprised the industry by announcing in August 2015 that it was dropping its rep firms and bringing national sales in-house. "That sent powerful ripples throughout the industry," Jessell said.
Gray is also known for embracing new ways of production and distribution, Jessell added. "It's been a leader in using augmented reality in news production and in streaming programming on OTT platforms. Its CBS affiliates were among the first to offer CBS All Access."
Gray is the third company to receive the Station Group of the Year honor. In 2014, it went to Sinclair Broadcast Group. In 2015, the recipient was Raycom Media.
About TVNewsCheck: Founded in 2006, TVNewsCheck is the leading source of business news for the broadcast TV industry. It also publishes TVNewsCheck’s Executive Outlook, a premium print publication that addresses the future of the industry.