Podcast and digital audio investments are paying off for the E. W. Scripps Co. which reported third quarter revenue on Friday. It said Stitcher revenue soared 41.4%, compared to a year ago, to $18.9 million. Through the first nine months of the year Scripps says Stitcher revenue is up 49%, totaling $34.3 million.
“We’re really pleased with the progress the market is making. The marketplace in digital audio is obviously growing quickly as consumer habits change,” CEO Adam Symson said on a conference call. “We expect podcasting to be a billion dollar marketplace in the next year or two.”
Scripps pointed to Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness for helping boost revenue. In a conference call, National Media Senior VP Laura Tomlin also noted the new Stitcher Original Office Ladies is already a top 10 show. It features real-life best friends Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey dissecting a television show one episode at a time.
“Office Ladies’ first episode has already had nearly two million downloads,” Tomlin said. “A new generation is watching classic TV shows such as ‘The Office,’ and they’re big podcast listeners too. This is another great example of why Scripps is investing in businesses that cater to changing consumer media habits.”
Scripps reported Triton Digital revenue totaled $10 million, a figure that the company said was down more than 10% compared to a year ago, when the streaming measurement and ad-insertion company was owned by Vector Capital. But Triton’s core business is growing according to Tomlin, who said the decrease was the result of a decision to spin off the Audience Management Platform (AMP) business to Frankly Media for $3 million. The deal included the AMP content management platform system that’s used by about 800 stations. “It gave the team the ability to focus on the two core revenue streams: infrastructure and measurement,” said Tomlin on the call with analysts.
Scripps has also shown it’s willing to spend to grow Triton’s business. It purchased the Australia-based podcast software company Omny Studio in June for $8.5 million. Omny has now been absorbed into Triton’s operations and its billings are not broken out separately. “We continue to benefit from the move of terrestrial radio companies onto digital platforms,” said Tomlin. “And now Triton is able to offer these companies an end-to-end podcasting solution as well. It’s a natural extension of our current services and Triton is now also powering Stitcher’s technology platform.”
Scripps’ growth into digital audio comes a year after it finished selling its 34 broadcast radio properties. Now it faces some familiar competitors as more radio companies expand into podcasting. Asked whether the company might be willing to take advantage of the high multiples being paid for podcast companies and part with its audio business, the company kept the door open.
“We’ve seen the same numbers you are, and that’s why we’re so bullish about the opportunity for Scripps in the space,” Symson told analysts. “We’ll continue to look at all opportunities as they present themselves in the digital audio space and take the marketplace’s development as it comes.”
Scripps reported overall revenue of $350 million during the third quarter, an increase of 16% from the prior year, driven mainly by its 60 television station group and its cable television networks, which include Bounce and the recently relaunched CourtTV.