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Perry Sook Sees Nexstar Owning a Broadcast Network in the Future

Perry Sook at the 24th B+C Hall of Fame.
(Image credit: Future)

Nexstar Media Group CEO Perry Sook said he could see his company owning a broadcast network in the future.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we owned a broadcast network and maybe other cable networks that we layer on top of our local content foundation,” Sook said when asked on a podcast to envision what Nexstar would look like in 2032. 

Nexstar has reportedly been in discussions to acquire a majority stake in The CW. The CW is now a joint venture of Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, and Nexstar is one of its largest affiliate groups.

The giant station group acquired cable network WGN America when it bought Tribune Media. Nexstar has rebranded WGN America into NewsNation, gradually turning it into a cable news channel.

Sook said Nexstar will maintain the mission it now has as an owner of TV stations.

Also: Nexstar Earnings Rise with Core Ad Revenue Up 4%

“I think our core business focusing on local markets and producing relevant, contextual, interesting, factual content and helping local businesses grow will remain unchanged,” he said. “At our core, we are a local service business.”

The businesses it is looking to buy will be “complimentary content acquisition to what we have today.” He expects that digital will account for a much bigger share of the company’s revenue than its current 6% or 7%.

Mostly Sook said he’s focused on the opportunity he sees in the switchover to ATSC 3.0, the new NextGen TV broadcast technology, and said he would like other broadcast execs to make it more of a priority.

Sook said that by 2032 ATSC 3.0 will represent a revenue stream that will be equal or greater than the revenue it currently gets from retransmission and distribution. Nexstar has pointed to studies that show incremental revenue from ATSC 3.0 services reaching as much as $15 billion by 2030.

“I think that’s the next big, and perhaps the final, remaining huge value creation lever for the industry that does exist today in our business as we know it,” he said.

In addition to being able to transmit more digital broadcast channels, Nexstar is looking at the NextGen TV signal as being able to enhance GPS and other location and navigation systems. 

“It allows us as broadcasters with this signal that is basically omnidirctional to become the wireless connector of the internet of things,” he said.

Sook said these businesses can’t really get started until enough spectrum is converted from the current ATSC 1.0 spec to ATSC 3.0 and he would like for other broadcasters to get on the stick.

“The pace of change here is not satisfactory to me,” Sook said. “If this is as big a valuation opportunity as we envision it to be, why aren’t other folks in my CEO seat spending all day, every day, talking about how to get to the point of monetization?”  ■

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.