Total revenues for the large TV station group increased 12.3% to $649.9 million in the first three months of 2017 -- with digital revenues and retransmission revenues the key gainers. Digital revenues improved 25%. The company did not disclose retransmission revenue specifics.
Core advertising revenue was virtually flat -- down less than 1% in the first quarter -- due to weakness in the food and retail categories and the loss of revenue from for-profit technical schools, according to Steven Marks, EVP/CEO of Sinclair Television Group, during an earnings call with analysts.
According to MediaPost, Political advertising, as expected, took a hit -- totaling $2.1 million versus $24.4 million in the first quarter of 2016. Automotive advertising grew 3% in the period; the category represents 26% of Sinclair's advertising revenue.
The company's stock on Wednesday closed down 2.6% at $37.35.
Sinclair says net income of $57.2 million more than doubled the results of the same period a year ago. Company executives expect second-quarter advertising weakness to continue from the first quarter -- flat to slightly down.