Nexstar Media Group reported a dip in profits a year after generating record political advertising revenue.
Net revenue was $169.2 million, or $3.90 a share, down 10.6% from $189.3 million, or $4.08 a share a year ago.
Revenue was up 3.5% to a company record $1.157 billion.
Advertising revenue was down 13.5%. Core ad revenue was up 13.3%, reflecting the recovery in the local economy. But political advertising was just $12.4 million, down from $132.4 million a year ago.
Distribution fee revenue rose 14.9% to $618 million and digital revenue jumped 46.8% to $81.1 million.
“Nexstar’s strong third quarter financial results once again exceeded consensus expectations and highlight growing momentum across our broadcast, digital and networks platforms. With pandemic-related challenges largely behind us, we are beginning to actualize the value of the scaled platform we have created,” said CEO Perry Sook in a statement.
Analyst Steven Cahall of Wells Fargo said that Nexstar’s results beat Wall Street expectations and noted that the broadcaster saw trends improving in the fourth quarter.
“Nexstar delivered another solid beat and it looks like there's confidence for free cash flow to exceed $1.33 billion,” Cahall said in a research note. “As the first TV company to report, on the [earnings call with analysts] we'll be looking for more color on the Q4 ad trends and if there's any incremental softness caused by supply chain. We don't think these are new negatives for TV, but Nexstar’s commentary will have read across to other media names reporting this week.”
In his statement, Sook addressed NewsNation, Nexstar’s challenged cable network.
“We continue to make progress in scaling NewsNation’s content offerings with the launch of a major programming expansion at the end of September,” he said. “Over the last year alone, consumer awareness of NewsNation has doubled and while there is still much work to be done, we have great confidence in our long-term growth strategy for the network and the complementary opportunities related to our acquisition of The Hill.”
Sook’s statement was optimistic about next year.
“Looking ahead, Nexstar expects 2022 to benefit from its growing multi-platform audience and industry-leading distribution, continued growth of the gaming/sports betting category and the upcoming 2022 mid-term elections where, due to our extensive footprint, Nexstar has historically garnered 12-15% of total U.S. broadcast political advertising spending,” Sook said.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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