WGN America Path, Food Network Stake Enter Spotlight After Nexstar-Tribune Deal

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The acquisition of Tribune Media by Nexstar Media Group has created the most important proprietor of native TV stations, however it additionally raises new questions on the way forward for WGN America and a virtually one-third stake within the Meals Community.

In a convention name Friday with Wall Avenue analysts to debate the deal, which closed Thursday, Nexstar CEO Perry Sook stated establishment can be the near-term plan on each fronts.

“Our sport plan is to function the heck out of it. We predict, with tv stations that attain 63% of the U.S., we will be useful in selling the channel. Clearly, they’ve had some current success with new authentic programming. Canine the Bounty Hunter [and his new present, Canine’s Most Needed] is delivering every kind of rankings will increase for the corporate.” The community will be a part of the lineup of AT&T TV, an internet-delivered “skinny bundle” in October, Sook added. “We think there’s a lot we can do with WGNA. While it’s not a core holding and a core focus of the company, it is part of the company,” he stated.

Requested about probably including extra cable belongings, Sook stated that may be unlikely, and he famous that cable has change into a vendor’s market by way of M&A, making it a tough proposition to unload a community.

“We like the local piece of the media ecosystem,” he stated. “The national piece has a lot more headwinds, we think, whether it’s distribution or audience. The primary focus of the company will still be local television but that doesn’t mean that we are going to phone it in. We are going to operate [WGN America] aggressively until or unless somebody makes us an offer we can’t refuse.”

WGN America has gone by a dramatic evolution over the previous 5 years. Former Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori, who got here to the corporate after serving to launch FX and forging its authentic programming technique, rebranded WGN America in 2014 and stocked it with authentic reveals like Underground. The interval drama wowed critics and served as a standard-bearer for the community, even screening on the White Home towards the top of President Barack Obama’s second time period.

Because the local weather shifted over the center years of this decade, with cord-cutting and streaming competitors taking a toll, Tribune was left with a dear programming operation battling to face out in a crowded area. After Liguori left Tribune in 2017 when it was about to be absorbed by a special local-broadcast rival, Sinclair, WGNA pivoted to a lower-cost unscripted-heavy mannequin. Underground was canceled after two seasons.

“I will compliment management,” Sook stated on the convention name. “They’ve done a great job of turning it around over the past two years, from a money-losing asset to a nine-digit money-making asset now, in terms of EBITDA contribution.”

As to the 31% of Meals Community, he stated Nexstar can be “happy to continue” holding onto it since there may be “no physical capital that is expended to collect that distribution every year.”

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