Nexstar acquires The Hill

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Nexstar has acquired The Hill, a political digital media company, for $130 million.

The Hill began as a newspaper back in 1994 and since expanded to a digital version along with video content. As of 2021, the company’s YouTube channel had a higher subscribe count than Politico, Axios and Bloomberg Politics.

It also offers a “Changing America” sub-brand that includes coverage on social justice, sustainability, education, arts, well being and identity, among other topics.

The Hill had 48 million average monthly users and 2.2 billion total page views in 2020, while Nexstar’s combined digital properties averaged 91 million users and 7.8 billion page views.

The acquisition is a key move in Nexstar’s strategy of focusing on news. It’s already invested millions in NewsNation, formerly known as WGN America, to offer what is quickly becoming another cable news and commentary offering — albeit a very lowly rated one despite reaching 75 million homes.

Nexstar also has over 100 local newsrooms that contribute content to over 100 websites and the NewsNation venture. NewsNation also has a website and other digital offerings.

In announcing the purchase, Nexstar COO noted “The Hill has a nationally recognized brand known for delivering balanced political reporting, as well as authentic opinions and perspectives, and is highly complementary to Nexstar’s national cable news network, NewsNation.”

NewsNation lost its national political correspondent, Dean Reynolds, just after the 2021 inauguration of President Joe Biden, though Reynolds said his contract was only for six months, so The Hill could become another source for its political coverage.

While The Hill does publish exclusive reporting, its coverage also includes similar stories to those carried on other political and general news websites and its content frequently branches out beyond just political pure coverage, including, as of late, coverage of Tropical Storm Henri, the coronavirus pandemic and labor shortages, though the stories are frequently presented with connections to politics and government.

Most of Nexstar’s other digital news properties include more exclusive local coverage that’s harder to find on other sources complemented with national coverage from either wire or syndication sources or Nexstar stations.

Nexstar was already a major player in local news before it acquire Tribune’s TV assets, which included cable network WGN America, as well as additional local stations. Some of those properties had to be sold off to running afoul with FCC ownership rules but the company used the opportunity to expand its local newsroom footprint.