Blog Post

Communacopia: Ken Lowe, CEO, EW Scripps: $75M Digital Revs This Year; Shopzilla Repositioning

At the Communacopia conference, EW Scripps (NYSE: SSP) CEO Ken Lowe and CFO Joseph NeCastro predicted strong online revenue growth in the coming year, driven by the interactive properties of its cable networks. They’re calling for $100 million in revenue in 2008, up from an estimated $75 million this year. This is solid growth, although whether some of this will come from M&A, as the company anticipates doing a number of online acquisitions in the $25-$100 million range. The plan is to beef up the content at sites like FoodNetwork.com, which it claims is already the #1 food/recipe site in the world. The company’s recent purchase of user-generated recipe site Recipezaar.com for approximately $25 million is probably a good example of the kind of deals it’s looking to do going forward.

Shopzilla: Shopzilla, the comparative shopping engine acquired in 2005, has struggled as of late, which management chalks up to a number of factors, including heightened competition from retailers and management changes. In response, Scripps is hoping to reposition the site, turning it into more of a destination, where shoppers can come to learn and interact with products. Management says revenue starting to turn around, although this holiday season will be a test.

Newspapers and Broadcast: Lowe and NeCastro were saved by the bell, so to speak, because they only got into these areas with little time remaining in their session. Basically, the company isn’t immune from the problems that everyone is facing; newspapers are getting slammed in classifieds, especially in markets hard hit by real estate troubles. While it has no immediate plans to do so, it wouldn’t be inconceivable for the company to jettison its newspaper business at some point going forward. The Scripps family, which still owns a significant stake in the company, is fairly hands-off, and likely wouldn’t pose the same kind of obstacle as the Bancrofts did at Dow Jones (NYSE: DJ).