Lee Enterprise Outlines Digital Growth Strategy, Expands Video

Newspaper chain Lee Enterprises Inc., outlined a digital growth strategy on Monday as it prepares to move its stock listing from the New York Stock Exchange to the Nasdaq Global Select Market. 

The firm hopes to accelerate digital subscription growth, expand an emphasis on video and other paid niche content, including podcasts and apps. 

In addition, Lee hopes to grow to 900,000 digital online subscription from 286,000 today, generate $100 million in annualized revenue from its Amplified Digital Agency in three years and achieve its long-term leverage target of under 2.5x. 

Lee, now active in 77 markets, also plans to invest in creating a cohesive experience across all of its platforms.

Last year, Lee acquired 31 daily newspapers from Berkshire Hathaway for a reported $140 million; it has reduced costs by $104 million. That included newsroom layoffs, according to reports. 

For instance, the company eliminated the four-person copy desk on the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Virginia, in favor of a consolidated copy desk in the Midwest, and cut 10 positions on the desk at The Roanoke Times, according to Virginia Business. 

However, the company apparently has hired digital design talent. 

“In addition to driving significant sequential revenue improvement and delivering industry-leading digital subscriber growth of more than 69% in each of the last five quarters, Lee has also made significant investments in talent and technology to realize our digital future,” states CEO Kevin D. Mowbray. 

The company reported 2020 revenue of $795 million, including $356 million on the consumer side, $367 million in advertising and marketing services, 34% of it digital, and $20 million for TownNews Digital Services. 

Digital revenue fell by 30% to $114 million. 

The switch to Nasdaq is expected to take effect on April 19.
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