Sinclair Broadcast Group reported higher fourth-quarter profits despite lower revenue.
Sinclair, a big owner of local stations and regional sports networks, said net income was $467 million, or $6.27 a share, compared to $44 million, or 47 cents, a year ago.
Excluding $16 million in one-time costs related to transactions, COVID, litigation and regulation, operating income increased to $641 million from $322 million a year ago.
Revenue dropped 7% to $1.512 billion. Ad revenues were $554 million, up from $456 million a year ago. Political ad sales hit $205 million compared to $23 million a year ago.
Distribution revenue was $917 million, down from $1.1 billion.
Sinclair said that for the first quarter of 2021, it expects core ad revenue to be between $347 million and $362 million and for total revenue to be in the $1.462 billion to $1.485 billion range. EBITDA is forecast at $59 million to $80 million.
Sinclair also said that it acquired the 73% interest it didn’t already own in ZypMedia, a demand-side platform specializing in local media campaigns. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Certainly 2020 will be a year not soon forgotten,” said CEO Chris Ripley. “The year was remarkable for its hardships, such as the pandemic that had a significant impact on people’s lives, the economy, and professional sports, and also its bright spots, such as the record political ad spending which helped offset weakness in core advertising caused by the pandemic.”
Ripley added that “2021 is shaping up to be another important year for Sinclair with the upcoming launch of a new, enhanced streaming app for our regional sports networks (RSNs), ushering in a new paradigm for how viewers can watch and interact with major local sporting events.”
The streaming app will add gamification of the viewing experience, making viewing more engaging for fans as they tune in to watch on the company’s RSNs, which are being rebranded under the Bally Sports name.
“We will work with Bally’s on exciting new programming and other initiatives to help drive growth,” Ripley said. “Along with other actions planned for the year, including the broader deployment of NextGen TV and the recent launch of our national news initiative, The National Desk, we are optimistic about the future of Sinclair.”
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