CEO Ken Lowe was no doubt happy to use the term “solid quarter” with so many media companies struggling. Scripps saw Q1 revenues rise 6.8%, led by its cable networks and shopping Internet sites. TV revenues declined only slightly, a half million bucks, with a help from political, while newspaper revenues fell 8.3%.
Lowe lamented the lack of Democratic presidential primaries in Florida and Michigan, at least as recognized by the Democratic National Committee, which he said “left a lot of money on the table. Still, Scripps stations booked $3.1 million of political revenues, up from a mere $300,000 a year ago. Excluding political, local was down 5.8% to $45.7 million and national was down 7.5% to $22.1 million. So, TV revenues overall were down just $500,000 to $76 million.
As for the plan to separate into two companies, that’s still on schedule to occur by June 30th and the needed letter from the IRS has been received verifying that the split will be tax-free for shareholders. The TV group will remain at E.W. Scripps Company with the newspaper division, which saw Q1 revenues drop 8.3% to $156 million.
Meanwhile, Lowe reported “momentum across the board at Scripps Networks,” which will be departing to become part of Scripps Networks Interactive. Ad revenues rose 15% to $236 million. Lowe noted that HGTV is still strong, disproving fears that it would be badly impacted by the real estate slowdown. He noted that scatter pricing for HGTV is 30% above upfront prices and for Food Network, scatter is 40% more expensive. Affiliate fee revenues for the cable net were up 17% to $67.4 million.
And there was good news from the other division to be spun off to the new company. Comparison shopping sites Shopzilla and uSwitch both had growth, so Interactive Media revenues rose to $77.5 million from $62.9 million a year ago and the division posted a profit of $21 million vs. a loss of $381,000 a year ago.