Q4 revenues beat expectations for LIN TV, falling only 3% to $101.1 million, despite a $16.1 drop in political revenues. Excluding political, Q4 was up 12.6% and Q1 is well ahead of that pace.
“2010 is off to a strong start. First quarter pacing is up 20% and we have broken our online traffic and engagement record twice already. I also expect political to be a strong growth category,” said CEO Vincent Sadusky, noting that there are more contested races than usual, including some unexpected ones where “safe” incumbents have decided to retire or seek a different office.
LIN Executive Vice President of Television Scott Blumenthal told analysts that auto ad revenues were up 9% in Q4, reversing the decline for the year, with Q1 pacings much stronger. Core local and national advertising, excluding political, rose 9% in Q4 to $89.5 million, while core ad sales were down 14% for the full year. Local rose 7% in Q4, vs. down 13% for the year, and national gained 12% in Q4, vs. down 17% for the year. Blumenthal also noted proudly that LIN’s stations added 1,700 new advertisers in 2009 through new business development initiatives.
LIN’s acquisition of RMM in October 2009 contributed to a 44% increase in digital revenues for Q4 to $13.4 million. That figure also includes retransmission consent fees.