E.W. Scripps reported operating revenues in the second quarter of $78 million, a 66% increase over the previous year’s second quarter. The massive leap was primarily a result of the acquisition of the television and radio stations in the Journal group, along with a pickup of two Granite stations, as well as increases in retransmission revenue. Revenue from the acquired stations accounted for approximately $72 million of operating revenues in 2015 and $1.2 million in 2014.
Scripps’ retransmission revenues nearly tripled in the quarter, to $36 million.
To provide a more apples-to-apples quarterly comparison, Scripps offered “adjusted combined revenue”, showing earnings if the Scripps-Journal merger had been in place for last year’s second quarter. Operating revenues increased 3% to $198 million by that measure.
“On April 1, we smoothly completed our transaction with Journal Communications and moved ahead into a full quarter of operations with 33 television stations, 34 radio stations and a complement of local and national digital media brands,” said Rich Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps. “The remainder of 2015 is focused on integrating these new stations and positioning us for the tremendous opportunity of 2016. Our large collection of stations in key swing states makes Scripps one of the most valuable platforms for political advertising in presidential election years, and 2016 could be a record year for campaign spending to reach those most critical voters.”
Next year, Boehne said retransmission revenue may jump more than 50% thanks to “step-ups and renewals of agreements” with cable and satellite TV distribution partners.
Revenue from the television group was $167 million in the quarter, up $4.5 million. Local revenue was down 5.4% and national crept up 0.8%.
Radio’s revenue and expenses of $19.4 million and $14.5 million, respectively, were essentially flat with the prior period. Segment profit in the division was $4.9 million in the second quarter, compared with $4.6 million in the 2014 quarter.
Digital revenues were $8.6 million, up 16% from the prior period.
Scripps anticipates television revenue to be down in the mid-single digits in the third quarter, up against tough political comparisons. Radio revenue is expected to be flat to down in the low single digits.