Paul Kagan, Pioneering Media Analyst, Dies at 82

Paul Kagan
Courtesy of Melanie Canter

He was among the first to recognize the potential of cable television.

Paul Kagan, the pioneering media analyst who provided forecasting and financial data about the entertainment industry for nearly 50 years and was among the first to recognize the power and potential of cable television, has died. He was 82.

Kagan died Aug. 23 from kidney failure at his home in Carmel, California, his family announced.

A onetime sportswriter and play-by-play man for a New York Yankees farm team, Kagan left his job at E.F. Hutton on Wall Street in 1969 to launch Paul Kagan Associates.

He published the first newsletter (Cable TV Investor) about the emerging field of television that year and became the first analyst to print public company valuations based on multiples of cash flow and computations of the private value of public media companies.

The Bronx native moved his family and growing business to Carmel in 1978, and Kagan and PKA would publish more than 38 newsletters and 95 data books on subjects ranging from cable TV, radio, TV/movies, newspapers, internet media, TV-radio finance and investment and sports business/advertising to pay TV programming, broadband technology, cellular telephone, interactive TV and the valuation of European, Latin American and Asian cable, satellite and pay TV assets.

Dubbed the "Cable Guru," Kagan also conducted panels and appeared on hundreds of high-level seminars and conferences around the world. He served as an appraiser of media values; managed stock and bond funds; consulted for leading companies and government agencies; and provided expert witness testimony. His research was quoted in leading newspapers and magazines.

Kagan wrote twice-monthly columns for Cable World magazine, which he co-founded and financed, and created Euromedia, the first pan-European business magazine. In 1989, he opened an office in London to cover European media, followed by outposts in Los Angeles, Denver and Hong Kong.

PKA also published Asia Cable and Satellite World and Asia Broadband magazines and in 1995 launched its first website, pkbaseline.com, the first to offer PPV information. His internet Media Investor newsletter in 1996 was the first publication to recognize the role of internet search engines as media companies.

In 2000, Kagan sold PKA to Primedia, which was later purchased by MCG Capital and renamed Kagan Research LLC. It was ultimately acquired by SNL Financial, which was bought by McGraw-Hill in 2015. The company continues to operate as SNL Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

In 2006, Kagan launched PK Worldmedia and as chairman/CEO continued to conduct conferences and provide research and consulting services to executives, financiers and investors in digital entertainment and communications media technologies.

He was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame in 2011.

Kagan graduated from Taft High School in the Bronx in 1954 at age 16, then attended Hunter College, where he was sports editor of the weekly Hunter Arrow newspaper before leaving in 1958 with a B.A. in communications.

He became a sportswriter at The Binghampton Sun in upstate New York and a play-by-play radio announcer for the New York Yankees farm team in the town. He also was sports editor of the Endicott Bulletin in New York; later, he moved to Berwick, Pennsylvania, where he was a DJ for WBRX.

Back in New York City, Kagan did PR for Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, sold radio advertising at CBS and WOR-FM and was a freelance writer for newspapers, magazines and Barron's. His fascination with the cable TV industry blossomed while he worked as a broadcasting securities analyst for E.F. Hutton.

Kagan went on to co-found The Cable Center in Denver and serve as co-founder and director emeritus of the John Bayliss Broadcast Foundation, which offers grants to students seeking a career in radio. He also was a fellow of the New York Society of Security Analysts and a member of the Media Analysts Group of New York.

Survivors include his high school sweetheart and wife of 62 years, Florrie; daughters Melanie and Linda and their respective spouses Ross and Ron; grandchildren Mia, Gabriel and Matthew; and sister Beatrice.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, a private burial was held Aug. 27 in Pacific Grove, California. A celebration of his life is being planned.

"His body will rest at El Carmelo Cemetery in Pacific Grove by the rolling waves of the ocean, but his soul will be in heaven," his family said. "We hope that they have a press box up there so he can call the games for all the Yankees who have gone before him and are no doubt playing baseball in the clouds."

Donations in his memory can be made to the Warriors Community Foundation.