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Scripps Looks Ahead to 2022 After Q4 Earnings Drop to $40 Million

E.W. Scripps

The E.W. Scripps Co. reported lower fourth-quarter earnings but said that it will get a boost this year from heavy political spending at its stations and higher viewership of its national networks.

Scripps said it expects to garner about $270 million in political advertising revenue in 2022, up 40% from the last midterm election year. It also plans a campaign to boost over-the-air viewing as consumers cut the cable cord.

The company expects free cash flow to be up 50% to $400 million to $450 million in 2022.

Net income fell 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.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose $5.3% to $622 million. The acquisition of Ion Media last year contributed to the increase.

“Scripps shareholders have much to celebrate in the company’s fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 financial results, especially our delivery of record non-election year free cash flow of $280 million during a period when our country’s economy was emerging from a global pandemic,” CEO Adam Symson said.

Symson noted that at the company’s new national networks group, its five Nielsen-rated entertainment networks grew audience year over year, contributing to fourth-quarter revenue.

“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,” he 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.”  

In the fourth quarter, the Scripps Networks group had profits of $106 million, up from $93.2 million on an adjusted combined basis following the Ion acquisition. Revenue was up 14% to $273 million.

Scripps’s local media group posted a profit of $82.2 million, down from $202 million a year ago. Revenue dropped 26% to $351 million in a nonelection year. Core advertising revenue was up 1.5% to $183 million. ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.