CINCINNATI—EW Scripps reported a drop in Q4 earnings this week but said it expects strong political advertising for the 2022 mid-terms and increased national network viewership. The station group—which owns 61 stations in 41 markets—also announced that it would launch an initiative to promote its free over-the-air broadcasts to cordcutters.
Scripps predicts that it will log about $270 million in political advertising revenue this year, up about 40% from the last mid-term election year and would help drive an approximately 50% year-over-year increase in 2022 free cash flow, to a range of $400-$450 million.
Net income dropped to $40.2 million, or 43 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, from $244.7 million, or $1.35 a share, a year ago. Q4 revenue was up $5.3% to $622 million, which Scripps attributed to its acquisition of Ion Media.
CEO Adam Symson said Scripps’ five Nielsen-rated entertainment networks increased viewership year over year, contributing to fourth-quarter revenue. And unlike most station groups, which have ignored promoting their free over-the-air broadcasts, (despite the growth in cordcutting over the past decade), Scripps said it will launch a campaign to promote its national networks. It left out any mention of NextGen TV, however.
“Scripps Networks already capture 25% of viewing in the expanding OTA marketplace, and as we move through 2022, we are devoting ourselves to continued viewership and revenue growth,” Symson said. “Among our plans is a marketing campaign on how to watch over-the-air TV and the wide range of quality content you find on it.
“This campaign is part of Scripps’ effort to carve out our own valuable corner of the television ecosystem: free, ad-supported platforms such as OTA, FAST [free, ad-supported television] and AVOD [ad-supported video-on-demand] that serve subscription-weary Americans.”
Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA’s Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.