Sinclair Broadcast Group reported a profit Wednesday for the third quarter driven by strong political advertising and said it’s looking to develop new sources of revenue.
The Hunt Valley-based broadcast company on Wednesday reported income of $21 million for the three months that ended Sept. 30, compared with $19 million in the third quarter of 2021.
The results exclude the company’s regional sports networks, which are owned and operated by Diamond Sports Group and were deconsolidated from Sinclair’s financial statements as of March.
Earnings were 32 cents per share compared with earnings of 25 cents per share in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for nonrecurring costs, earnings were 36 cents per share, beating analysts’ estimates of 16 cents per share.
Shares of Sinclair fell 2.87% Wednesday and an additional 2.68% Thursday to close at $17.46 each.
Total revenue was down 45% to $843 million, compared with $1.54 billion in the third quarter of 2021, which included the sports networks. Excluding the sports networks a year earlier, quarterly revenues increased 5%.
Sinclair said third-quarter ad revenue jumped 14% to $374 million compared to the third quarter of 2021 and included $88 million of political advertising. Ad revenues this year through the third quarter were up more than 50% compared with the first nine months of 2018, the last midterm year, and not far from 2020 presidential election year levels.
”We believe this year we will easily set a mid-term election year record for political advertising revenue,” said Chris Ripley, Sinclair’s president and CEO, in Wednesday’s earnings announcement.
The company has seen weakness in the general advertising market because of economic conditions, though categories such as auto and legal have begun to improve, Ripley said.
He said Sinclair has been taking steps to make itself less reliant on advertising and its other main source of revenue, the retransmission fees it charges cable and satellite operators to show its programming.
Initiatives include creating multiplatform content, building an omnichannel marketing service and looking for new ways to distribute data. In the content area, the company has formed a creative partnership with Anthony Zuiker, creator of the CSI franchise, to create content across a range of formats and subjects.