The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter takes a look at how political ad revenue is luring buyers to stations in battleground states. With more consolidation predicted in the local news landscape, higher political revenues and higher ratings make stations more valuable, Stelter reports:
When Allbritton, the media company that owns Politico, put its seven television stations up for sale this spring, analysts quickly singled out one as the most attractive: WJLA, the company’s ABC-affiliated station in Washington, D.C. It is the biggest of the bunch, the best known and, perhaps most important, a magnet for political spending.
WJLA took in $33 million in election-related and issue advocacy advertising last year. Only three stations in the United States earned more for political ads, and two of those were also in Washington. That’s because the stations’ signals reach citizens in a crucial battleground state, Virginia, as well as the political power brokers in the nation’s capital. If Allbritton were to sell WJLA by itself, it could fetch $300 million.
That math helps explain why Gannett paid $1.5 billion for 20 stations last month, why the Tribune Company agreed last week to pay $2.7 billion for 19 stations — and why more consolidation in the marketplace is forecast for later this year. The increasingly expensive elections that play out across the country every two years are making stations look like a smart investment, with the revenue piling up each time a candidate says, “I approve this message.”