Scripps Reports 22% Revenue Gain in Quarter

Political, digital and retrans revenue offset weak core biz

Scripps reported third quarter television revenue of $121 million, up 22% from the same quarter a year before. Local advertising ticked up 1.8% to $55.6 million, while national was down 2.8% to $26.6 million. Political advertising, much of it displacing core advertisers, was $17.4 million in the quarter. Digital revenue was up 8.5% to $4.6 million, while Scripps’ retransmission fees were up 46% to $15.2 million.

The media giant acquired Granite’s WMYD Detroit and WKBW Buffalo for $110 million last February, which elevated the third quarter numbers year over year.

Scripps’ newspaper division saw a 4.4% decline in total operating revenue. Subscription revenue increased 2%.

Consolidated revenues increased 9.5%, or $18.1 million, to $208 million during the 2014 quarter.

"Television demonstrated its power as a platform for engaging local voters once again in the third quarter,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps chairman/president/CEO. “Our local TV brands proved to be the venue of choice for candidates and issue backers in several of the most active election states. For us, this is a low-cost revenue stream that at its peak displaces some core local advertisers. Many of them choose to wait instead of competing with the flurry of political messages. Now with the elections behind us, we expect core advertisers to return through the remainder of the fourth quarter."

Scripps and Journal Communications have planned a merger, with Scripps taking on the Journal TV and radio outlets, and both groups’ newspapers housed under the Journal Media Group banner. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

In 2014, revenue was $623 million compared to revenue of $596 million in 2013.

Scripps forecasts television revenues to increase, in percentage, in the upper 20s, including $33 million in political advertising and $15 million in retransmission revenue.