The increase to $192 million is driven by an uptick in retrans money as well as more subscribers to the company’s OTT services. Scripps President-CEO Adam Symson: “During the first quarter, we continued to see the tangible impact of our plan that improves our short-term performance and positions the company for long-term growth.
The E.W. Scripps Co. this morning reported first quarter revenue from its Local Media group (its TV stations and local brands on all platforms) of $192 million, up 2.7% from the same quarter a year ago.
Local Media revenue broken down by category:
- Core advertising increased 0.2%.
- Retransmission consent revenue increased 6.9% to $70.8 million. Retransmission revenue was affected by a one-time refund of $2.1 million to an MVPD that mistakenly overpaid over several quarters in 2016 and 2017 on out-of-market subscribers.
In the Local Media segment, the number of subscribers to over-the-top services in Scripps markets grew to 350,000 by year end, driving retransmission revenue by adding to the company’s traditional cable and satellite subscriber counts, which remained stable through the end of the year.
Local Media segment expenses increased 3.7% to $160 million, primarily driven by increases in programming fees tied to network affiliation agreements.
First quarter Local Media profit was $31.6 million, down 2.5% from $32.4 million in the year-ago quarter.
The company’s National Media division reported 1Q revenue of $60.7 million, up from $9.7 million in the prior-year period. Revenue from the Katz networks was $42.7 million. Excluding the impact of Katz, revenue increased 87%. The Katz networks continue to expand their national footprints, with each of the four networks now reaching over 90% of the U.S.: Bounce reaches 91% percent of U.S. households while Grit reaches 90% and Laff and Escape each reach 93%.
Revenue at Newsy more than tripled from the prior-year period, driven primarily by over-the-top advertising. Continuing to grow its cable distribution, Newsy is on track toward its goal of signing contracts covering 40 million cable and satellite households by the end of 2018.
Expenses for the National Media group were were $58.7 million, up from $13.6 million in the prior-year period. The increase was primarily driven by the acquisition of the Katz networks, which was completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.
National Media profit was was $2 million, compared to a loss of $4 million in the 2017 quarter.
For the company as a whole, total revenue was $254 million compared to $198 million in first-quarter 2017.
For the quarter, loss from continuing operations was $8.6 million or 10 cents per share. In the prior-year quarter, loss from continuing operations was $2.7 million or 3 cents per share.
The current-year quarter included $3.8 million of restructuring charges, which increased the loss from continuing operations by $2.8 million or 3 cents per hare.
Commenting on the quarter’s results, Scripps President-CEO Adam Symson said: “During the first quarter, we continued to see the tangible impact of our plan that improves our short-term performance and positions the company for long-term growth. We began the execution of our cost-cutting initiatives, are exploring potential television station swap opportunities and are divesting our radio stations. The aggressive plan we outlined in September is specific and actionable and will drive meaningful margin and cash-flow improvement.
“In our Local Media segment, we saw nice growth in our over-the-top service subscribers and stabilization in our legacy contracts. We remain on track to meet our full-year retransmission revenue expectations.
“In the National Media division, we delivered our second consecutive quarter of positive segment profit, bolstered by the Katz networks. Their newly expanded reach combined with audience growth allow these audience-targeted networks to capture more premium advertising dollars and grow their contribution.
“Our next-generation national news network Newsy continues to expand its distribution across cable and over-the-top. A recent partnership with PolitiFact is one of several we expect will bring Newsy additional visibility, brand recognition and loyal followers. We continue to invest in Newsy and Midroll to capture the greatest long-term growth.
“On the capital allocation front, shareholders received their first regular quarterly dividend, allowing them to share in the immediate benefits of our company growth plans.”
Read the company’s report here.