Scripps Networks Interactive, parent company of Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and other lifestyle cablers, posted a solid profit gain for the third quarter but also saw expenses rise 13% thanks to increased investments in programming and digital initiatives.
Scripps’ third-quarter revenue climbed 9% over the year-ago quarter to $617 million. Net income was also up 9% to $129 million, or 87 cents per share, which surpassed most analysts’ expectations. Operating expenses at the Tennessee-based outfit rose 13% to $355 million.
Scripps Network topper Kenneth Lowe made it clear that the company is looking to international markets for growth prospects, particularly for Food Network and Travel Channel. Scripps recently bought out its Asian partner in Food Network and is looking to expand in that region as well as Latin America. International offshoots of Food are also on the move in Eastern Europe and South Africa.
Scripps execs singled out Travel Channel as its single-biggest asset with upside. The company recently ousted Laureen Ong as prexy of the cabler but has yet to name a successor.
Lowe toutes ratines growth at HGTV and noted its status as magnet for upscale women. Food Network has seen some ratings choppiness in recent months but has not been forced to hand out significant make goods, execs said.
“We’ve seen ratings slumps before,” said Scripps Networks president Burton Jablin. “It’s all about programming our way out of it.” Jablin cited strong starts for new skeins including “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Rachael Vs. Guy Kids Cookoff” as positive signs for the fourth quarter.
Lowe noted that Scripps Networks outlet are among the most impervious to the spread of delayed viewing, with an average of 91% of programming watched live.
As such, Scripps isn’t as focused as other media companies in pushing advertisers to accept C7 ratings as a sales metric. Nor is Scripps as active as others in mining the potential profits in SVOD licensing pacts.
“It’s good for the industry” to move to C7, Lowe said, “but I don’t see a huge lift for us.”
Pictured above: Food Network’s “Chopped.”