E.W. Scripps Q4 local media revenue drops 17%

E.W. Scripps
E.W. Scripps headquarters (Derek Jensen/Wikimedia Commons)

E.W. Scripps’ local media revenue for the fourth quarter fell about 17% to $203 million as increases in retransmission revenue met up with decreases in political advertising.

During the quarter, the company saw its retrans revenue rise 4.9% to $63.5 million and core advertising rose 6.6%. But political advertising only totaled $3.4 million, compared to $56.2 million in the year-ago quarter.

At the same time, segment expenses rose 6.5% to $157 million, due to affiliate agreements and production costs, while segment profit fell from $95.1 million one year ago to $45.4 million.

E.W. Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson said the company is beginning to see positive impacts from its reorganization and restructuring efforts and pointed toward a strategy for strengthening its TV station business.

"We also continue to move forward with our television station acquisition strategy—an aggressive plan to get deeper and even stronger in the markets where we operate and emerge with a higher-performing portfolio that has more revenue and profit-generating capacity,” said Symson in a statement.

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He also highlighted Scripps’s digital efforts with its Katz networks, which he said are at 90% national household reach, and Newsy, which he said will be in 40 million pay-TV households by the end of 2018.

The national media segment, which houses those two businesses, saw its revenue total $53 million during the quarter, up from $9 million one year ago. The company attributed that rise to revenue from Katz totaling $41 million. The Katz acquisition, which was finalized in October, also lead to higher expenses for the segment. All told, the segment swung to a $2.7 million profit after posting a $2.2 million loss during the year-ago quarter.

In all, E.W. Scripps’s quarterly revenue was $257 million, up 1.6% year-over-year. Total costs and expenses were $222 million, up from $172 million one year ago.