Although its longtime mainstay advertising category -- automotive -- continues to suffer, Nexstar Media Group posted core advertising gains -- up 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021 to $494 million.
Advertising categories that saw growth in the period for Nexstar, the biggest U.S. TV station company, included entertainment marketing, sports betting, medical and healthcare, department stores, retail stores, and telecommunications. Those headed in a negative direction include automotive and insurance.
During an earnings phone call with analysts, Tom Carter, president and chief operating officer of Nexstar, projected that pent-up demand for automotive -- the perennial top TV advertising category -- will drive more automotive media dollars back into the TV market in the second half of 2022.
However, long-term, Nexstar believes in the landscape for the advertising market with regard to specific ad categories has changed.
Perry Sook, chairman and chief executive officer of Nexstar, said automotive will no longer command a 30% share of all TV advertising revenues for the TV station group. He added that it would be "north of 20%, and that now, is "just barely below that.”
Political advertising in the period sank as expected due to unfavorable comparisons to Q4 2020 when the Presidential election flooded the market to major political marketing dollars. For the fourth quarter of 2021 it was $18.9 million versus $298.3 million for the same period in 2020.
Total advertising dollars -- political and core -- sank 34% to $512.8 million. Nexstar witnessed 33% growth in those advertisers new to television -- at $37 million in the period.
Distribution revenue was 17% higher to $615.9 million, while digital revenue was 56% higher to $101.7 million. Overall net revenue slipped 10% to $1.25 billion with net income down 28% to $262.3 million.
In September 2021, Nexstar launched Stellar, a digital advertising platform -- a data-driven audience platform that enables marketers to buy linear TV advertising and digital inventory, some of it secured from other non-Nexstar digital media sources.
This is similar to other major TV station groups that have started up in recent years such as Tegna’s Premion, Cox Media Group’s Gamut and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Compulse.
Nexstar owns, or has partnerships in, 200 TV stations in 116 markets.