Scripps touts strong connected TV revenue, driven by FAST channels

The E.W. Scripps Company benefited from favorable connected TV growth in the third quarter, as the company continues its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) expansion.

Scripps Networks this quarter launched four new FAST channels on Vizio as well as extended its CTV footprint to platforms like Samsung TV Plus, The Roku Channel and Amazon Freevee. CTV revenue grew 57% year-over-year, with Scripps expecting to achieve an annual run rate of over $100 million in CTV revenue by next year.

“Scripps’ impressive 10% revenue growth in the third quarter was fueled in part by the company’s multiplatform distribution strategy – to ensure viewers can find our high-quality programming content anywhere they watch TV,” stated Adam Symson, Scripps’ president and CEO.

Total company revenue was $612 million, with revenue from the Scripps Networks division making up $235 million – up 3.9% from Q3 2021 and fueled by CTV distribution. Scripps’ Local Media segment reported $378 million – a 14% increase year-over-year – mainly driven by political revenue of $63.2 million.

Speaking on Tuesday’s earnings call, Symson highlighted Scripps’ advantageous position in the free TV space.

“Consumers are bearing the burden of broader inflation and interest rate hikes, while streamers continue to increase prices,” he said. “This has created a period of even greater opportunities for free TV, both over-the-air and on connected TV, right in our sweet spot.”

Symson added Scripps’ local and national reach has enabled the company to capture about one-third of over-the-air (OTA) viewing in the U.S.

Scripps’ Free TV Project – a marketing campaign designed to promote OTA viewing – kicked off in July in 13 markets, where Scripps found a 30% increase in antenna sales from Q2 to Q3.

Building up its news arsenal, Scripps in September announced the creation of Scripps News, which will consolidate content from Newsy, Scripps Washington Bureau and other national news resources under one brand.

Scripps News is set to launch on January 1 across all of Scripps’ platforms. Current Newsy channels will then be rebranded to Scripps News.

On the political ad sales front, Scripps’ Local Media saw a record $200 million in political ad revenue for a midterm election, compared to $194 million in revenue from the 2018 midterms. But this year’s political ad revenue still fell short of 2020 presidential election levels.

Brian Lawlor, Scripps’ President of Local Media, attributed that lower figure to less spending than expected in key markets like Florida and Montana, as well as “lower-than-projected fundraising” across the entire broadcast industry.