E. W. Scripps reported first quarter television operating revenues of $102 million, up 5.4% from the previous first quarter, driven by strong local advertising and retransmission revenue growth, along with what Scripps called “higher than expected” political advertising--$2.7 million worth of it.
Local ad revenue grew 3.7% in the quarter while national was off 5.5%. Retransmission fees were up 19.5% to $12.5 million. Scripps’ digital revenue increased 17% to $4.4 million.
Television division profit was $21 million.
Scripps’ revenue from newspapers was $98.5 million in the first quarter of 2014, down 1% from the prior-year quarter with a decline in advertising and marketing services revenue that outpaced an increase in subscription revenue. It was the third consecutive quarter of subscription revenue growth.
Scripps’ consolidated revenues were $204 million, up 2.6% or $5.1 million, primarily due to the increases in retransmission revenue, political advertising and subscription revenue.
“The political season already has been good to us,” said Richard Boehne, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps. “A better-than-expected kick-off from a special election in Florida helped drive up television operating revenues, which also were boosted by a strong local advertising climate and a rise in retransmission revenue.”
In February, Scripps reached an agreement to acquire the ABC affiliate in Buffalo and the MyNetworkTV affiliate in Detroit from Granite Broadcasting for $110 million in cash. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.
Scripps’ WCPO.com began offering a subscription model for premium content at the start of the year. “Following investments in content, functionality and sales infrastructure, we’re now able to use the WCPO.com Insider service in Cincinnati to better test and model the opportunity for local television brands,” said Boehne. “This service will let us better meet the needs and desires of our digital-only media consumers. We’re off to a great start and already learning lessons about how to better build value in TV markets through digital services.”
Scripps anticipates second quarter television revenue to be up in the high single digits, and newspaper revenues to be flat.