Political fuels big quarter, year for Scripps


E.W. Scripps Company
Revenues were up at The E.W. Scripps Company in part because it had the benefit of income from four television stations acquired at the very end of 2011. But even excluding the results of those stations, the company enjoyed a year of explosive growth, particularly on the television side.

In Q4, excluding the new stations, located in Indianapolis, Denver, San Diego and Bakersfield, television revenue surged 39% to $118M. The total rises to $152M when the income they generated is added in. On a same-station basis, local was down 12% due to political displacement, and national was down 17%.

Political growth was explosive, surging from $3.5M to $56.9M — $44.1M excluding the new stations. Retransmission and digital income also increased greatly.

Revenues for the company as a whole grew 32% to $260M with the new stations in the mix; but it grew at a somewhat smaller rate without them, growing 14% to $225M.

The television division had to drag newspaper into the black. The print assets were down 4.6% to $105M for the quarter.

“Our repositioning of Scripps really paid off in the fourth quarter, and in all of 2012,” said Rich Boehne, Scripps president and CEO. “Investing to expand our television portfolio and to improve our local news programming resulted in an attractive platform for political advertising and the most effective voice for election-year journalism ever staged by Scripps. We also took advantage of the election year to build out our digital product portfolio across both TV and newspaper markets, expanding audiences and attracting new revenue sources. Our investments in new digital products and services will continue in 2013, consistent with our goal to be the leader in our markets. These efforts, led by a broad deployment of more sales resources to take advantage of growing digital revenues, are good examples of creating value through internal investment.”

Focusing on television, Boehne added, “the new stations in Denver, Indianapolis, San Diego and Bakersfield finished their first year as Scripps stations with strong revenue growth. And our decision to replace underperforming syndicated shows with internally produced programming had a positive impact in the first year. Our two newest shows – Let’s Ask America and The List – are performing well from both ratings and financial perspectives.”

Looking ahead, Boehne commented, “We expect the momentum to continue in 2013, with sustained progress from our newspapers and a level of profitability at our television stations – even on a same-station basis – that will be more than 50 percent higher than in 2011, the previous non-election year.”