Nexstar Media Group named Michael Biard, a former FOX (FOXA) executive, its president and chief operating officer today (July 25), according to a company press release. Nexstar owns 200 broadcast television stations in the U.S., including New York’s WPIX and Los Angeles’s KTLA. It also owns and operates networks like the CW, Food Network and NewsNation.
“Michael (Biard) is a talented, innovative, and deeply experienced media executive who will be a great leader for Nexstar,” said CEO Perry Sook in the release. Biard will report to Sook in his new role, which begins on Aug. 21, 2023. Biard will replace Thomas Carter, who joined the company in 2009 and will take on a senior advisor role.
Biard joins Nexstar from Fox, where he most recently worked as president of operations and distribution. In that role, he oversaw the distribution of content from the company’s sports, entertainment and news divisions, working both with traditional news media like cable and broadcast television and with newer platforms like digital and streaming. Biard spent 23 years at Fox and its predecessor companies. Before Fox, he practiced law. David Espinosa, formerly executive vice president of distribution strategy and business affairs, will replace Biard at Fox, according to a company press release.
In the background of Biard’s appointment, the television industry is undergoing massive change as streaming platforms eat at the market share of traditional television companies. Nexstar’s stock is up this month, trading today at $181 per share, or 44 percent higher than its price immediately prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, it reached a high of $209.
Founded in 1996 by Sook, Nexstar has grown to the largest television station company in the U.S. It went public in 2003, selling shares at $14 each, a fraction of what they now go for. A decade ago, Nexstar and Fox butted heads over the price of being affiliated. Fox reportedly increased the cost of showing its content on affiliate networks and threatened to drop the relationship if stations didn’t comply. The dispute resulted in dropped affiliations for multiple stations.
Nexstar largely expanded through acquisitions. In addition to buying individual stations, it also purchased broadcasting companies including Communications Corporation of America, Internet Broadcasting Systems and Media General. It merged with Tribune Media for $4.1 billion in 2019.
Despite industry challenges, Nexstar has increased its revenue every year for the last decade, according to earnings reports. In 2022, the company made $5.21 billion in revenue and $944 million in net profit, according to company earnings reports. Both were more than 12 percent increases from the previous year.