Scripps Networks’ Online Segment Declines; Swings To Profit

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Scripps Networks Interactive (NYSE: SNI) managed to return to profit in Q4, but the programmer reported continued weakness at its online properties. In addition to the profit swing, ad revenue at its Lifestyle Media segment was up 6.8 percent. At the Interactive Services segment, however, revenues were down 25 percent. Profits at the Interactive Services, which includes comparison shopping sites Bizrate.com and Shopzilla.com, fell 50 percent.

In part, the recession is to blame for the declines in the segment, but the company also admits that it still needs to do more “retooling” of Shopzilla. In the meantime, the company finally found a buyer for UK comparison shopping site uSwitch during the quarter, allowing it to concentrate more on Shopzilla.

The largely good news across Scripps comes a month after settling its differences with Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) that saw a brief blackout of the programmers channels, HGTV and Food Network.

The other big news during the quarter was Scripps Networks’ acquisition of a 65 percent stake in the Travel Channel, which is seen as part of a wider global expansion of the company’s lifestyle holdings. The Q4 results include the 16 days of the quarter that it was owned by the company during the period. While Scripps took a $13.6 million charge on the Travel Channel acquisition, the new addition contributed $11.5 million in revenues.

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