Tribune Media CEO Touts Political Ad Outlook

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Peter Liguori

Peter Liguori also tells the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York about the strong ratings for sports and the progress of WGN America.

Next year's elections are set to be a boon for advertising revenue at Tribune Media, CEO Peter Liguori said Wednesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

"We feel we are very well positioned," the exec said about election season. While political ad forecasts are always “a bit of a guessing game," he highlighted projections for $4 billion-plus in political TV ad spending.

Liguori said Tribune Media has strong TV stations in around a dozen key battle states. "It seems like some of the races are coming our way," he said. He highlighted the company's three stations in Iowa and also said that in Missouri there is no incumbent governor or senator. "There will be a lot of money spent there," he predicted. Illinois and Ohio also look set for strong spending, the CEO said. 

Asked about the upcoming FCC spectrum auction, Liguori said the company feels well positioned to benefit from possible spectrum deals. "We have great spectrum markets," he said. "We just have really strong spectrum," he later reiterated, highlighting Tribune Media's presence in nine of the top markets.

Asked about cord-cutting and skinny bundles, Liguori lauded his company's WGN America for having increased distribution and subscriber fees, which he said was "no easy task" in the current market conditions. He also said that pay TV operators have incentives to keep their offerings as robust and strong as possible. The Tribune Media CEO also once again lauded the deliberate rollout of original programming on WGN America.

Liguori also touted the success of local news and sports, which drive strong ratings for the company's TV stations. He mentioned that New York Yankees and Mets ratings typically "far exceed" entertainment shows on WPIX in New York, for example.