Q1 revenues were down 20% to $74.5 million for LIN TV. But LIN officials reported something similar to what Meredith reported a day earlier – that TV ad pacings are improving each month.
“I think that the pattern we observed in the first quarter was similar to what other broadcasters are reporting – that the quarter improved each month. But it looks like April is going to be a little bit down compared to March. And I think what we may see is the quarter strengthen each month as we observed in [the first quarter],” said CFO Rich Schmaeling in answer to an analyst’s question. Based on current pacing, Schmaeling said LIN is expecting Q2 revenues to be down 19-24%. Excluding political, that would be a decline of 13-18%.
“This is without a doubt one of the most challenging economic climates our industry has ever faced. All of our local markets reported weak demand for advertising in the first quarter of 2009, leading to lower revenue,” said CEO Vince Sadusky in delivering LIN’s quarterly results. Sadusky, however, praised LIN’s local sales teams for their generation of new business with the company’s focus on multi-platform delivery of content and advertising.
Net revenues declined 20% in Q1 to $74.5 million, but operating expenses were cut 9% to $63.3 million. Also, digital revenues, including Internet advertising revenues and retransmission consent fees, grew 82% to $8.9 million.
Scott Blumenthal, Exec. VP of Television, filled in some details for the quarter. Local ad revenues declined 22% to $50.4 million and national spot was down 30% to $21.9 million. Those stats exclude political, which was only a half million bucks in Q1, down from $3.2 million a year ago. Combined, local and national spot, excluding political, were down 24% in Q1. “The auto industry’s dire situation resulted in a 46% decline in auto advertising in the first quarter of 2009. Driving down further into this auto category, domestic was down 55%, foreign was down 45% and local dealer advertising was down 40%,” Blumenthal reported.