Tegna’s Q4 revenue falls 10.3% as political ad spending declines

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Tegna is reporting total fourth-quarter revenues of about $490 million, down 10.3% year-over-year amid a sharp decline in political ad revenue for the broadcast group.

Tegna’s advertising and marketing revenue declined slightly to $296.5 million, but political revenue plummeted to $9.8 million, down 89% from about $90.8 million in the year-ago quarter. A 22.7% increase in subscription revenue, which totaled $178.4 million for the quarter, helped somewhat to offset those declines.

Part of Tegna’s revenue decline was attributed to the company’s spin-off of Cars.com and sale of CareerBuilder, effectively making Tegna a pure-play media company.

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“On top of our financial performance, our content transformation efforts produced multiple new formats, original programs and digital-first investigations, earning us more national honors than any other local broadcaster, as we continue to execute on our strategy of redefining local journalism in the digital age. Organic growth initiatives, such as Premion, an innovative solution for over-the-top (OTT) advertising that reaches cord cutters, are expanding our revenue base and giving us access to new markets,” said Tegna President and CEO Dave Lougee in a statement.

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Tegna’s operating expenses fell 1% due to higher programming fees during the quarter. Operating income fell 26% mostly due to less political advertising revenue. Adjusted EBITDA totaled $169.4 million during the quarter and net income from continuing operations was $303.3 million. Tegna scored a $221 million benefit from the GOP tax plan.

Looking ahead, Tegna is anticipating a boost thanks to big events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics running on its NBC affiliates.

“As we begin 2018, our NBC stations took the number one spot among all NBC affiliates during the Super Bowl for ratings in Buffalo and share in Minneapolis. In the key adults 25-54 demographic, TEGNA stations had four of the top ten spots in ratings. For the Olympics, TEGNA stations held four of the top seven spots in ratings among all NBC affiliates in the key adults 25-54 demographic, and our stations in Denver and Minneapolis took the number one and two spots, respectively,” said Lougee.