Nexstar is looking to raise the profile of NewsNation, its little-watched cable news channel.
Speaking on Nexstar’s second-quarter earnings call Wednesday, CEO Perry Sook said a year after its launch, few people know about NewsNation.
Originally launched as a three-hour news block on the cable channel WGN America, Nexstar has rebranded the channel as NewsNation and plans to replace more of its off-net reruns with news, including a morning show launching in September.
“When we launched NewsNation, 10% of the country knew what NewsNation was,” Sook told analysts and investors. “We’re now up to 16%, but that means 84% of the country has no earthly idea. That’s job one.”
Sook said Nexstar will be mounting a promotional campaign for NewsNation that will kick off after Labor Day. It will run on Nexstar stations and the company has committed to spend “double-digit millions” on advertising on other TV, digital and social media outlets.
After the morning show launches in September, Sook said the focus is filling out the rest of the broadcast schedule with news, starting with weekdays in 2022 and weekends in 2023.
Also down the road may be a streaming version of NewsNation.
Sook said advertisers have reacted positively to the network’s news programming, paying the same cost per point in the scatter market as CNN.
“Now we’re obviously getting smaller rates because our ratings are smaller,” Sook noted.
Ratings for NewsNation’s news programming have been dropping all year. In January, the network averaged 65,000 viewers from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. according to Nielsen and just 15,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic used to sell ads in news programming.
By June, that time period was down to 28,000 viewers and 5,000 in the demo.
Composed mostly of reporting from Nexstar stations, NewsNation was billed as offering straight-down-the-middle stories at a time when cable news is politically polarized.
In March, NewsNation VP of News Jennifer Lyons resigned amid concerns the channel might take a right-wing turn because of low ratings.
Nexstar hired ABC News exec Michael Corn as president of news in May. Last month, NewsNation hired former Fox News exec Cherie Grzech as managing editor.
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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