Earnings Heat Up At Scripps Networks

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Scripps Networks Interactive cooked up a big increase in third-quarter profits, with a strong ad market boosting its cable channels.

Net income rose 56% to $102 million, or 61 cents per share, compared with $65.3 million, or 39 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenues increased 40% to $509 million. Excluding Travel Channel, which was acquired last year, revenue increased 22% to $445 million.

Scripps said profits at its Lifestyle Media segment rose 55% to $232 million, including the results from the Travel Channel. Advertising revenue was up 34% to $316 million. Backing out Travel Channel, ad revenue was up 18%. The company said that the ad market continues to be strong, with scatter prices running 20% above upfront.

Adding the Travel Channel also boosted programming expenses, which increased 24% to $98.7 million, but just 5.7%, exclusing the acquisition.

HGTV, Food Network and DIY posted revenue amelioration of14% to $174 million, 35% to $160 million and 29% to 22.8 million, respectively, in the period.

Revenue at Great American Country rose 18% to $7.6 million, with Scripps's digital business registering a 23% gain to $21.5 million.

Meanwhile, revenue at Travel Channel increased 14% to $62.3 million, on a pro-forma basis. Under the Scripps ad sales staff (a deal under which Discovery Communications sold Travel Channel ads ended, saving Scripps $20 million a year), the network has a broader list of advertisers and has reduced the amount of airtime devoted to direct response ads from 30% to a level in the high teens. The network gets about 10% more for spot advertising than it does from direct response. Travel Channel was also able to increase its ad rates during the upfront.

Revenue at Cooking Channel, converted from Fine Living, was $12.2 million, up 9.3%. Scripps paid $40 million in launch fees to cable operators to rebrand the service, but the effort appears to be paying off as its total-day audiences climbed 43%, while its primetime ratings are ahead 15%. Ad rates on CPM (cost-per-thousand viewers) basis for Cooking Channel are about 85% of those on Food Network; they were 65% of those rates when the channel operated under the Fine Living banner.

Read more at B&C here.

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