The increase to $147 million was fueled by higher political and digital revenue as well as a 41% rise in retransmission consent money.
The E.W. Scripps Co. today reported that its television station revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014 was $147 million, up $32.1 million or 28%, from the same quarter in 2013. On a same-station basis, total revenue increased 22%, and total costs and expenses increased 4.8%.
TV advertising revenue broken down by category was:
- Local, down 1.8% to $62.3 million
- National, down 8.3% to $29 million
- Political, $32.6 million compared to $2.1 million in the 2013 quarter
- Retransmission fees, up 41% to $15.8 million
- Digital revenue, up 24% to $5.9 million.
TV station expenses increased 12% to $91 million, and on a same-station basis, total costs and expenses increased 4.8%. The expenses include higher digital costs, higher employee-related costs and higher network fees tied to the increase in retransmission revenue. .
Higher network fees tied to the increase in retransmission revenue drove $2.3 million of the $10.9 million increase.
Segment profit in the television division was $56.3 million in the 2014 quarter compared to $33.8 million in the prior-year quarter.
The company as a whole reported consolidated revenues increased 11%, or $24.9 million, to $246 million during the quarter.
Commenting on the results, Scripps Chairman-President-CEO Rich Boehne said: “Political advertising revenue was the catalyst for our strong television division revenue growth in the fourth quarter, contributing nearly $33 million. Although it displaced many of our core TV advertisers, the political ad surge helped drive a 28 percent jump over fourth quarter of 2013. Retransmission revenue was another big contributor to our quarterly performance.
“Also in the fourth quarter, we completed contract negotiations with ABC covering 10 television stations from 2015 through 2019. We have a long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with ABC, and all sides will benefit from the outcome of this agreement, which includes an enhanced partnership in Watch ABC, the network’s over-the-top TV service.
“We are focused on digital video, and in the fourth quarter, we got a big boost when we added the Newsy video players onto our local newspaper and television websites. Across all of our digital businesses, we served up more than 235 million video views, the majority of them through Newsy’s reach. Digital video is a fast-growing marketplace that supports premium rates for pre-roll advertising. The large and growing Newsy audiences give us the opportunity to take advantage of those new revenue sources.
“Finally, we are moving rapidly to close our transactions with Journal Communications after receiving clearance from the Securities and Exchange Commission last month. These transactions will create pure-play broadcast and newspaper companies able to fully focus on their industry opportunities. Following the shareholder votes on March 11, we hope to move smoothly to an early second-quarter close.
“Once we complete the deal, Scripps will own 33 television stations and 34 radio stations in 27 markets as well as dozens of digital news and information products both in our local markets and with a national reach.”