As it continues to bulk up its national TV network business, E.W. Scripps saw rising business from its local TV stations in the fourth-quarter 2020 from political advertising.
Overall company-wide revenue grew 40% to $591 million, with local TV station revenues up 43% to $473 million.
As with other TV station groups, Scripps had record political advertising in the period -- $138 million (versus $15.2 million the previous year-period). For the entire 2020 year, the company posted $265 million in political advertising.
That political messaging preempted core advertisers -- resulting in a 9% decline in those marketers' advertising sales to $181 million.
The company also says the decline was due to pandemic disruption.
Scripps gained major results from renegotiating retransmission fees contracts for its TV stations -- a 36% hike to $150 million.
Direct-response advertisers helped its national TV business grow 28% to $117 million. Its Katz Networks were up 18%; its Newsy network grew 27%.
Last month, Scripps closed a deal to buy the ION national television network, adding to its national TV business of five Katz networks and Newsy -- all free over-the-air TV channels.
“Scripps is now a full-scale television company and the largest holder of broadcast spectrum in the country,” stated Scripps President-CEO Adam Symson in its earnings release.
Full-year revenue for the company was up 36% to $1.9 billion from $1.4 billion in 2019. Scripps made two major transactions in 2019: buying Cordillera Communications in May 2019 and a Nexstar Media Group/Tribune Media deal in September 2019.
Fourth-quarter net income hit $244.7 million (versus a net loss of $10.6 million). Full-year 2020 net income was $269.3 million (versus a $18.4 million net loss).