Nexstar is bringing together two of its prized properties this spring with the debut of a daily “The Hill” program on NewsNation.
Chairman and CEO Perry Sook revealed that previously discussed series based on the political news outlet, acquired by Nexstar in 2021 for $130 million, will premiere in April and run Monday-Friday.
“Next steps for us, obviously, Elizabeth Vargas is going to the network in April,” Sook said during a Thursday call with investors breaking down Nexstar’s fourth-quarter 2022 earnings results. “And by the end of April we will have a program schedule that will be news 24/5. So we will be a 24-hour news network Monday-Friday by the end of April and that will include the daytime expansion, the addition of ‘The Hill,’ the addition of the ‘Elizabeth Vargas Reports’ show at 6 o’clock Eastern, Monday-Friday. And at that point, obviously, we’re getting higher cost per thousands in news programming than we did in off-network programming.”
Sook continued, “We’ve been able to substantially grow our distribution revenue because of news content and being one of five networks rather than one of a hundred general entertainment networks. If you follow the decline in general entertainment network ratings, we couldn’t have made the pivot at a better time.”
No further details were given for “The Hill” TV news show, including a specific premiere date and time slot.
In August, Nexstar’s digital unit launched a streaming channel for The Hill with content including “Rising,” a morning program; interviews with lawmakers and policy influencers; summits and policy roundtables from thought leadership events organized by The Hill; “Changing America,” a series that explores timely topics including respect, sustainability, resilience and well-being; and local political programs produced by Nexstar stations.
As “The Hill” prepares for its linear debut on NewsNation, Sook said with the “enhanced” profitability of NewsNation, the focus is now on investing its syndicated programming expense back into journalism: “That’s what’s driving the build out.”
Following the cable channel’s move to a 24/5 news schedule in April, Sook says they will then set their sights on becoming a 24/7 news channel and filling the 18 hours of Nexstar programming on Saturday and Sunday that are currently entertainment programming. “We’ll have that piece done by the end of 2024, and then we’ll be a 24/7 cable news network.”