UBS Conference: Nexstar Eyes $2 Per Subscriber Retrans Fees

Perry Sook, Nexstar's chairman, president and CEO and one of the fiercest advocates of retransmission consent cash, said $1.50-$2 per subscriber, per month is a realistic goal for station groups. Addressing a roomful of bankers at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, Sook said it might take six years, or longer, to reach $2 a head. But he sounded a vote of confidence in NBC's hopes to represent its affiliates on retrans deals, and said such a model--adopted by all Big Four broadcast networks--would help attain that fee level.

"If the networks can come together [with their affiliates], I think we might get there faster," he said.

Sook said stations represent 40% of the viewing for subscription-TV services, but take just 5% of the distribution revenue.

Nexstar spent much of 2011 battling with Fox over affiliation agreements before the parties severed ties in several markets. Sook said Nexstar's eight remaining Fox affiliates have inked agreement extensions.

Sook professed Nexstar's commitment to local news, and local ad sales, describing local programming as "the key to the front door" for the broadcast group.

Nexstar would continue to garner management fees from Four Points until its acquisition by Sinclair closes, Sook noted, and the group is "in discussions with other groups" to iron out new station management pacts.

The chief exec was also bullish on Nexstar's growing online business, saying the stations would add a better video player to their sites early in 2012, and noting how Nexstar's July acquisition of, a low seven figures deal, was driving its e-media business substantially.

Mobile ad revenue, Sook said, is "the oil in the ground" for the Irving, Texas-based broadcaster.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.