Nexstar has been rumored to be considering a majority stake in The CW -- which is 50-50 co-owned by Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery. The station group has major affiliate stations as part of this network.
This, of course, would not be the first time a big TV station group has angled to buy a broadcast TV network. Capital Cities bought ABC back in 1985. A year later, Fox famously started up after News Corp. bought a 50% interest in 20th Century Fox and then six major market TV stations from Metromedia.
To achieve more growth, independent TV stations have naturally looked at other TV distribution businesses such as networks, as well as cable TV and local digitally based over-the-air TV networks, for expansion.
Nexstar bought WGN America in 2019, and then turned into a 24/7 cable news channel -- NewsNation -- in 2021.
But ask yourself whether big TV station groups should be more focused on streaming and digital media businesses.
As a possible bridge to this, many TV station groups started a relatively easy digital-media synergistic effort to support their core over-the-air TV stations, which have been losing audiences over the years.
That plan is to start up a digital advertising business, including selling local and regional ad inventory of needy streaming/OTT apps -- to be packaged with TV station inventory to boost reach and effectiveness of their core local TV advertisers.
But those businesses are still tiny in size compared to the retransmission, core TV station advertising, and the political advertising business.
Should their focus be on other things -- like owning or starting up broader-reaching premium streaming platforms -- as their bigger network partners are doing?Well, it's an increasingly crowded and competitive market. So what remains are perhaps older TV broadcast and cable networks that need other media business financial connections.
While linking up the largest owner of TV stations in the U.S. would be a good first step, one would again need to ask what the future for a modest-sized legacy TV network would be, say, ten years from now?The question always comes back to how to compete with growing digital media and digital-first businesses.