Perry Sook, Nexstar Media Group’s chairman and president, says the company is dedicating the equivalent of $120 million this year to promote its national newscast, News Nation. How will that money be spent? What media is being used? And what will the creative be?
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, a new, national, three-hour newscast from Nexstar will debut on its cable outlet WGN America that is available to 75 million viewers. News Nation will air daily from 8 to 11 p.m. ET, seven nights a week.
There are two distinct features that make this newscast unlike anything on TV.
The news content will draw from the reporting of 5,400 journalists in Nexstar’s 110 local newsrooms across the county, as well as the five Nexstar bureaus in Washington, New York, Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles.
And the newscast promises to deliver news reporting that is fact-based and unbiased, which research says people want.
Perry Sook, Nexstar Media Group’s chairman and president, said the company is dedicating the equivalent of $120 million this year to promote News Nation, $100 million of which is for dedicated spots on the Nexstar stations and $20 million for paid media on cable and radio.
How will that money be spent?
What media is being used? And what will the creative be?
Sean Compton, WGN America’s executive vice president, and Gary Weitman, Nexstar’s chief communication officer joined me to discuss the particulars.
Thirty-second launch promos started airing on Aug. 17 on Nexstar’s stations, which, according to Weitman, reach 68% of the country’s television households.
“It will be a very aggressive schedule and will run through the launch,” Compton said. “We have a post-launch schedule as well. We also did an external buy with a lot of cable television people who are news consumers as well as a robust radio buy.”
Compton said the spots were written in-house, as was some of the production, but some graphics and other production elements were outsourced.
In markets where Nexstar does not have a significant presence, it spent money on other media.
Those markets included Boston, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Miami. “We put a lot of external money into those markets,” said Compton, “we are on cable, we are on radio. We put a little more effort in those markets.”
In addition to the cable buy, Compton said they bought syndicated radio, mostly news-talk, across the Midwest as well as in Los Angeles, New York, Cleveland and Louisville, Ky..
Compton said on social media, they bought Facebook. “Platforms that skew towards news viewers.”
Depending on the media, Compton said the messages are all a little different.
“One is a little more of a heartland feel, one is more about the Nexstar assets, the 5,400 journalists at 110 newsrooms. We are very Americana.”
Once News Nation launches, day-of tune-in spots, or topicals, will begin.
“Each day we will have topical promos done and delivered to the stations by midday and they will air on both the Nexstar stations as well as any of our external media that we are partnering with at the time. We have already bought a lot of the external media, but we want to be very careful about how we deploy it because we want to make sure that once we’ve got the early research in on our ratings, maybe there are markets where we lack awareness that we need help in. So we will redeploy those spots. But we will have those topicals on WGN America and the Nexstar stations running each day.”
In addition to the midday topicals, Compton said there will be more up-to-date spots delivered later, a couple of hours before the newscast go live.
News Nation has gotten the attention of the mainstream press, said Weitman.
“We have got some additional press around the time we named the anchor teams and we have been kind of steadily beating the drum. We have had stories in the Wall Street Journal, Variety, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times. And it has worked out well. I think the attitude is, this will be interesting and I hope you can pull it off. It is a ‘wow we think this would be a really cool thing to be doing so hopefully you guys can make it work’.”
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