E.W. Scripps: Print Bundling Continues To Pull Down Online Ad Revs

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Credit: Denver WestWord

Bundling print and online newspaper ad sales together has come to be viewed as problem that publishers need to move away from. E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) situation over the past year makes that point pretty well. The Cincinnati company’s Q3 reflects previous the previous quarters, in that online-only ad dollars continued to rise, but when tied together, revenues continued to drop.

In fact, online-only was the only positive number in the newspaper divisions’ top-line revenues. Online pure-play grew 7 percent, while total online (including print upsells) fell 4.2 percent, to $7 million in Q3.

Specifically, the other categories have had a hard time arresting the declines of the past two years, but there’s been some small progress:

— Local, down 10 percent to $19.3 million
— Classified, down 6.6 percent to $20.8 million
— National, down 11 percent to $4.4 million
— Preprint and other, down 2.7 percent to $16.8 million

Meanwhile, on the broadcast side, online is just gearing up. In further contrast to the newspaper division, E.W. Scripps’ TV websites might benefit from being tied to broadcast sales, which were up 31 percent in total during the quarter:

— Online broadcast revenue increased 35 percent to $2 million
— Local, up 4.7 percent to $37.6 million
— National, up 25 percent to $20.1 million
— Political was $14.8 million, compared with $1.7 million in the 2009 quarter

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