“We like our chances on political dollars,” said Sinclair EVP Steven Marks on the group’s fourth-quarter call with analysts today. “You just look what goes on every day. [Watching politics has] become the best TV show on the planet.”
Nexstar, which is expected to become the industry’s largest station group when it closes on its merger with Tribune this fall, said that for the first time in its two-decade history, “non-TV revenue” from retransmission consent and digital will exceed that from TV advertising.
CBS is prepared to “do what is necessary” to hang on to its NFL rights. That was the message sent by CBS acting CEO Joe Ianniello and CBS Sports chief Sean McManus Thursday during CBS’ fourth-quarter earnings call. Ianniello also emphasized the growth in CBS’s direct-to-consumer platforms — CBS All Access and the standalone Showtime app — that has paced ahead of projections the company made in 2016.
Five years ago, said Scripps Local Media President Brian Lawlor, Scripps owned only 13 television stations. “When we close on our recent acquisitions, we’ll have 51 stations in 36 markets stretching across the country.” The plan, he said, is to build “a stronger and more durable station portfolio.”
Tegna President-CEO Dave Lougee says that ad category is destined to join subscription revenue as a reliable income stream that will inoculate the company from the ups and downs of the economy as a whole.
Sinclair not only exceeded guidance in political advertising, it exceeded every other midterm election in the company’s history, and also exceeded political income earned during the 2016 presidential election. As Television Group EVP-COO Steven M. Marks put it: “We’re drunk on political.” It also announces it has settled with the Justice Department over allegations of sharing of ad sales info.
The company’s media revenue rose 9.2% year-over-year in the quarter to $695.9 million, bolstered by $28 million in political advertising. The revenue outlook for the third quarter is also good. Sinclair said it expected media revenue of between $710 million and $722 million, which would be a gain of anywhere from 12.8% and 14.7% compared to the quarter last year.
Retrans and political helped offset lower ad revenue. Looking forward, CEO Perry Sook said that core is pacing better in 3Q and auto is a key improving category. Also on the upswing: attorneys, medical-health care, home repair, insurance, entertainment, utilities, real estate, lumber and hardware.
Gray EVP Kevin Latek said that Gray has received “very strong interest” in the nine stations that Gray said it would spin off from the Raycom merger to comply with the FCC local ownership limits. The interest has come from established broadcasters and new entrants. “We expect to finalize the divestiture agreements and get them to the FCC and the antitrust division for review by the end of this month.”
Once ownership questions get settled at the FCC, Tegna says it is ready to look at any and all types of M&A transactions.