Nexstar Media Group, the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, hauled in record quarterly revenue as political advertising around the 2020 election exceeded the company’s expectations.
The Irving-based media giant reported $1.1 billion in revenue for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, a 68.5% increase over the same period in 2019. Advertising revenue jumped more than 70% in the quarter to $514.3 million, with $132.4 million from political ads.
For the year, the company estimates it will top its own projection of $400 million in political spending by 20%, chairman and CEO Perry A. Sook said in a statement. That would put it around $480 million. The final five weeks of political spending will be included in the company’s year-end results.
Nexstar owns 197 local TV stations in 115 U.S. markets and reaches 63% of American households. Its roster of stations includes affiliates of NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, MyNetworkTV and The CW.
The company said that its quarterly results were aided by a recovery in general ad spending in key areas and that its stations “captured exceptionally strong shares of political spending in our markets.”
“Encouragingly, while local and national advertisers initially reacted to the pandemic by modifying their spending, during the third quarter, we saw rebounds in several key categories as we generated year-over-year growth in four of our top nine categories,” Sook said.
Its stations saw higher ad spending by auto dealers, big-box retailers, fast food and home improvement stores, law firms and sports wagering sites.
Analysts have lauded the company in recent months as “deeply undervalued” and “well-funded.”
Last month, the company said it was combining its broadcasting and digital operations under the Nexstar Inc. name — a move that it expects to accelerate growth and generate “mid-seven-figure expense savings” next year.
Nexstar has grown rapidly in recent years, with its biggest footprint expansion coming last year when it received regulatory approval to buy Tribune Media Co. in a deal valued at $4.1 billion. That made it the country’s largest local TV station owner.
The Tribune deal included WGN America, a cable channel that reaches 75 million households. Nexstar launched a new prime-time national news program on WGN on Sept. 1. The program draws on coverage from the company’s local TV news stations across the country.
In response to the pandemic, Nexstar said, it cut operating and corporate expenses, saving $70 million so far this year.