Sinclair Broadcast Group reported first quarter total revenues of $504.8 million, a 22.3% boost from the previous year’s first quarter. Operating income was $84.5 million, an increase of 4.4%, versus the prior year period. Core advertising and retransmission revenues paced the gains, as did acquisitions; the Allbritton and New Age stations, along with TV outlets in Macon and Las Vegas, among others, factored into the 2015 numbers but not the previous year’s first quarter.
Net broadcast revenues increased 24.1% to $464.2 million. The Super Bowl, which aired on 19 NBC-aligned Sinclair stations, generated $1.7 million in revenues versus $8.2 million in the first quarter of 2014 when it aired on Sinclair’s 31 Fox stations. Political revenues were $2.2 million versus $6.1 million in the first quarter of 2014.
Digital revenue increased 77.8% in the first quarter.
David Smith, president and CEO of Sinclair, sees the growth continuing. “Recently, we announced several initiatives expected to add longer-term value and growth opportunities, including the launch of our Digital Ventures group, which will develop and enhance our digital capabilities,” he said, “as well as a partnership with Visible World for a programmatic/audience network platform that will allow us to compete for network and cable national advertising dollars."
Digital Ventures will invest in “emerging digital technologies and digital content companies.”
In the first quarter, Sinclair expanded news in three markets: Baltimore, St. Louis and Charleston, S.C.
Sinclair forecasts net broadcast revenues to be around $491.6 million to $496.1 million in the second quarter, up 21.6% to 22.7% year-over-year. "The second quarter of 2015 is pacing slower than the first quarter; however, auto advertising is coming off a strong first quarter," commented David Amy, executive VP and chief operating officer. "We are also excited about Fox’s potential given the success of the hit show Empire and its impact on our Fox affiliates when it returns in the fall. Despite the current choppiness in the ad market, with all but two markets reported, station audits reflect that our stations slightly grew revenue share in the first quarter."