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Expand chart
Data: AdImpact; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The media deal frenzy is coming for Washington, giving longtime owners and investors in political publications a way to finally cash out.

Why it matters: The post-Trump era has been a traffic nightmare for political publications, but business is soaring right now, thanks to a few hot-button issues being debated by a new, divided Congress.

  • The pandemic has been an especially lucrative issue for pharmaceutical companies and trade groups.

Driving the news: Axel Springer announced a deal to acquire Politico last week that values the company around $1 billion, per sources familiar with the deal.

  • The deal values Politico at roughly five times its revenue — which is a little less than $200 million across its U.S. and European operations.
  • The Hill, a Beltway-based publication that gets significant national traffic to its digital website, sold to local broadcast giant Nexstar for $130 million earlier this month. The Hill brought in around $40 million in revenue last year, and around $10 million in profit, according to sources familiar with its finances.
  • FiscalNote, a policy market intelligence firm that bought CQ Roll Call in 2018 for $180 million, is looking to go public via a SPAC IPO at a valuation well over $1 billion, according to sources familiar with its plans.
  • Axios, which focuses on topics beyond politics but has a strong foothold in the area, has been in deal talks.

Be smart: Unlike local TV stations, which make most of their ad revenue in even years during elections, political publications tend to make most of their advertising revenue in odd years — following the election of new members to Congress.

  • Washington influencers and opinion leaders aren't audiences that are sought after for election ads, but they are primary targets for issue ads and ads around corporate social responsibility.
  • Political outlets will make the most ad dollars the year after a new president is elected, due to the onslaught of new regulatory issues being debated in the new Administration's first 100 days.
  • If Congress is divided, or if both chambers are majority controlled by a party opposite of the White House, issues tend to be more contentious, and attract more advocacy ad dollars.

Bottom line: The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a strong ad market recovery and a divided Congress, have been a boon to DC media companies.

  • A push right now to consolidate the digital media industry has made 2021 a perfect year for many of these companies that have long remained independent or privately-owned, to sell.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Roller coaster day for Trump SPAC stock

Expand chart
Source: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday was a bumpy one for the SPAC that recently agreed to take Donald Trump's new media company public, at one point gaining more than $4.5 billion in market value.

Inside the numbers: Shared of Digital World Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: DWAC) closed at $45.50 on Thursday, the first day of trading after the Trump announcement, and then opened at $118.79 on Friday before hitting a high of $166.64.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Amazon warehouse workers in New York file petition to hold unionization vote

Amazon workers and their supporters rally outside the National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Brooklyn, New York City, after filing a petition requesting an election to form a union. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon warehouse workers in New York City filed a petition on Monday with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a vote on unionization.

Why it matters: The move comes six months after an organizing effort was defeated at Amazon's distribution center in Alabama.

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