Q1 down for Washington Post Company


Revenues were essentially flat in Q1 for the newspaper and cable TV divisions of the Washington Post Company and down for television and the biggest division, education. Companywide revenues fell 7% to $1.06 billion and operating income fell by half to $52 million.

The two largest of the six Post-Newsweek stations are NBC affiliates, so the TV division was heavily impacted by the lack of $4.7 million in Olympics advertising from Q1 of 2010. Also, political advertising declined by $1.8 million.

TV revenues in Q1 of 2011 were down 1.8% to $72.2 million. However, if you exclude the incremental Olympics and political revenues from 2010, RBR-TVBR calculates that TV revenues were up 7.8%. Operating income in Q1 decreased 6.3% to $19.6 million.

Washington Post newspaper revenues were down 0.5% to just under $155 million. Print advertising was down 8% to $63.2 million, with retail and classified down the most, while online (washingtonpost.com and Slate) rose 8% to $25.7 million. The operating loss for the newspaper division improved to $12.8 million from $13.8 million a year earlier.

The Cable One MSO saw a 0.5% increase in revenues to $190.3 million. However, increased costs pushed operating income down 11.4% to $37.7 million. That was, however, the most operating income of any division for the quarter and the majority of the $52 million of operating income for the entire company.

Despite its name, the Washington Post Company is no longer primarily a media company. More than three-fifths of its revenues come from its education division, mostly operating under the Kaplan name. Hit by regulatory changes, both instituted and proposed, 2011 is going to be a restructuring year for Kaplan. Q1 revenues were down 10% to $640.6 million and operating income plunged 73% to $15.5 million.

RBR-TVBR observation: Flat is actually pretty impressive for the Washington Post newspaper revenues. Online advertising growth wasn’t enough to counter the continuing decline in print advertising, so it appears that circulation and other revenues rose to fill the gap, even as the number of subscribers continued to decline. The Post may be bottoming out and setting the stage to be one of the first big newspapers to actually begin a recovery.