EARNINGS CALL

Meredith: Steady Improvement Amid COVID-19

In the company’s quarterly Q&A session with Wall Street analysts, Local Media Group President Patrick McCreery noted sequential month-over-month improvement throughout the pandemic. April TV ad revenues fell 49%, May was down 43% and June improved to a decline of 28%. Moving into the current quarter, July was down 25%.

After reporting a 34.7% drop in fiscal Q4 TV advertising revenues due to the impact of COVID-19, Meredith Corp. President-CEO Tom Harty told analysts Thursday morning that core TV advertising is expected to be down 20% in the current quarter through September. Political advertising is projected to be about the same as two years ago for the period, with Harty noting some expected crowd-out of core by political.

In the company’s Q&A session with Wall Street analysts, Local Media Group President Patrick McCreery noted sequential month-over-month improvement throughout the pandemic. April TV ad revenues fell 49%, May was down 43% and June improved to a decline of 28%. Moving into the current quarter, July was down 25%.

McCreery noted that Meredith’s TV footprint has fewer senate and gubernatorial races this cycle than two years ago, which he said account for the majority of the company’s political revenues. So even with the presidential race, the group is projecting political this quarter to be flat with the previous cycle. McCreery said presidential election spending is pacing up 55% from four years ago.

Meredith’s National Media Group — magazines and related digital properties — is more than double the size of its TV group in terms of revenues. Two of the biggest magazine titles are being readied for launches as syndicated television programs.

People, the biggest Meredith title of all, is first up. “We have our show launching Sept. 14 in syndication, so that will be a very traditional syndicated television business model, with what I consider to be — and I think everyone else does — the strongest entertainment brand in the industry. Moving that brand from the pages of our magazine onto television makes a lot of sense,” said McCreery.

There is no roll-out plan yet for Southern Living, but McCreery expects to bring it to syndication in the next year to year-and-a-half, he said.

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