E.W. Scripps' TV revenues jump 37% in fourth quarter on retransmission fees, political advertising

E.W. Scripps headquarters in Cincinnati. (Image: Derek Jensen/Wikimedia Commons)

E.W. Scripps Company posted its fourth-quarter revenue, which was marked by a 37% increase in TV revenue.

For the quarter, the company’s TV segment revenues hit $233 million, up $62.7 million from the year-ago quarter. That jump was driven by increases in retransmission revenue, which rose 69% to $60.5 million, and advertising revenue that was boosted by the election year.

Broken down, Scripps took in $80 million in local advertising, down 11.3%; $32.8 million in national advertising, down 14.5 %; and $56.2 million in political advertising, well ahead of the $2.1 million from the year-ago quarter.

The 12% decrease in core local and national advertising revenue during the quarter was partially due to displacement from political advertising.

While TV segment expenses rose 6.3% to $137 million because of higher programming fees tied to network affiliation agreements, segment profit climbed to $96 million, up from $41.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

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"Our broadcast television division delivered record revenue in 2016, despite the headwinds of an uncommon presidential election combined with the short-term absence of some advertisers who avoided jockeying with political campaigns for airtime," said Scripps Chairman, President and CEO Rich Boehne in an earnings statement. "While the presidential race spending did not rise to the level we had expected, we were encouraged by the strong spending levels for U.S. Senate and House races in our markets."

“Also in our TV division, we are seeing success through our original programming strategy. Our infotainment-news program The List continues to pull strong ratings as the 17th highest-rated show in syndication. The List can now be enjoyed in 45 markets covering 28 percent of the nationwide audience—32 million U.S. television households. Our viral videos show RightThisMinute reaches most of the country today and continues to see significant ratings growth and profitability as it heads into its seventh season,” Boehne added.

Overall, E.W. Scripps managed to swing to a profit during the quarter, posting a net income from continuing operations of $38.3 million, up from a net loss of $21.1 million in the year-ago quarter. Total revenue was $273 million compared to $205 million the prior year.