Tribune Media Blames Low Political Ad Sales For Q3 Earnings Miss

David Lieberman
Deadline

Tribune Media just released Q3 earnings that fell short of Wall Street expectations — and dropped its full year guidance citing “lower than expected political advertising revenues” at its TV stations as well as “a decline in core advertising revenues.”

Several real estate deals helped to lift net income 423% to $145.8 million, on revenues of $518.1 million, up 6%. Analysts thought that the top line would hit $547.9 million.

Taking out the real estate sales, earnings came in at 48 cents a share, below the 51 cents that investors anticipated.

“Our results would have been even better but for the Trump campaign’s substantially lower than expected spend on television advertising and the fact that our station portfolio does not benefit from Olympic advertising because we have only two relatively small NBC affiliates,” CEO Peter Liguori says.

“Adjusting for the significant impact of core dollars shifting into the Olympics, we estimate that core advertising remained essentially flat in the quarter, consistent with the first half of 2016,” he adds. “Similarly, despite lower overall political spending in the market versus 2012, we significantly increased our political advertising market share, and at this time we estimate that our full-year gross political advertising revenue will be about $161 million, or 97% of our record 2012 total.”

TV and entertainment revenues were up 7% to $459.1 million. That included a $25.7 million increase in political ad sales vs last year, which did not include national elections. Tribune also saw a 13% rise in retransmission consent revenue.

But core ad sales — not including political and digital — fell 6%, which the company says was mostly due to competition with the Summer Olympics.

The quarter was also hurt by its dispute with Dish Network, which resulted in Tribune stations going dark on the No. 2 satellite service for much of the summer.

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