The first quarter of the new year was very difficult for E.W. Scripps as it watched its political income dwindle to almost nothing. The company said the difficulty was not unexpected as it enters into the down part of television’s two-year revenue roller-coaster ride.
Revenue for the television portion of the company fell $2.7M to $96.9M despite a 35% increase in retransmission income to $10.4M. The political disappearance was massive – the category fell from $4.7M all the way down to $300K. Local also took a hit, falling 4.9% to $53.7M, but national was up 4.6% to $26.9M and digital soared 23% to $3.8M. TV profits fell from $17.9M to $16.5M.
“Following record-setting profit performance in 2012, we launched into 2013 determined to substantially upgrade our digital revenue platforms, launch a series of new local digital products, and rebuild our newspaper business models around bundled subscriptions for digital and print audiences,” commented Rich Boehne, president, chairman and CEO.
Boehne said we should expect similar comparables from the company throughout the remainder of 2013. The company will be seeking to mitigate the seasonal slump by expanding its digital operation, including “…the deployment of focused digital advertising sales forces across the country,” a process that is already under way.
Overall, the company’s revenue fell from $207.2M to $198.7M for the quarter. The newspaper segment also contributed to the loss, falling 4.7% to $99.5M.
Looking ahead, Scripps said television revenues could be down as much as 10% by year’s end due to dramatic fall-off in political spending.