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.
The station group enjoyed an $8 million, 2% gain in revenue to $420 million in the second quarter, driven by retransmission consent revenue. And looking forward, political will drive a double-digit increase in local income during the third quarter, with political really rolling starting at the beginning of 4Q in October.
Over the last month or so, Dave Seyler and I have been dutifully sitting in on the earnings conference calls of the TV station groups and writing stories about them. However, upon reflection, we feel that we may not have given you a complete picture. At the same time, we realize that you don’t have time to listen to or read all the transcripts. So, as a reader service, we have produced a single composite transcript that seems to cover everything. Read on.
The company sees itself well-positioned for this year’s midterm election campaign spending. It has stations in 19 of 36 governor contests, with eight appearing to be highly competitive; it has 16 of 34 Senate races, with eight competitive; and Tegna’s 33% U.S. footprint suggests it will benefit from some 150 House races.