Gray Television’s third-quarter revenues rose 7% to $219 million as significant increases in both national advertising and retransmission consent revenues helped offset the expected drop in political advertising.
National advertising revenue rose 22% to $31 million while local ad revenue jumped 8% to $110 million, accounting for more than half of Gray’s total revenues. Gray’s combined local and national advertising revenue increased by approximately $13.5 million, or 11%.
Gray’s retransmission revenues rose 37% during the quarter to reach $70.2 million.
Those figures helped to fight off the tough political advertising revenue comparisons that come after a presidential election year. For Gray, political advertising fell 82% to $4 million, but the company said the total “significantly exceeded” the high end of its guidance.
Gray’s net income of $15.3 million during the third quarter was its highest net income for any third quarter in the company’s history. The company ended the quarter with $79.9 million in broadcast cash flow and $38.1 million in free cash flow.
Broadcast operating expenses rose by $18.7 million, or 16%, to $139.4 million during the third quarter of 2017 compared to the third quarter of 2016, primarily due to expenses related to acquisitions in 2016 and 2017, which accounted for approximately $34.9 million.
In 2017, Gray acquired eight stations and also began operating one station under an LMA. In 2016, the group acquired 13 stations.