Ad Revenue Tumbles at Owner of L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune

Tribune Publishing Stung by Digital Declines

By Published on .

Tribune Tower in Chicago.
Tribune Tower in Chicago.

Third-quarter advertising revenue at Tribune Publishing -- owner of 10 daily newspapers including Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun -- was off 9.5% compared with the previous year to $221 million, the company said Wednesday.

Digital sales, where some traditional media companies have seen sharp gains, fell 7.5% to $44 million.

"We are not satisfied with the company's advertising performance in the third quarter," CEO Jack Griffin said during an investor call Wednesday explaining the quarterly results. "We are taking significant steps to address ad revenue performance going forward."

Total revenue during the third quarter -- the period from July through September -- was down 4.7% to $404 million. The company reported a net income loss of $156,000.

Mr. Griffin said all the company's newspapers are profitable.

Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, which recorded ad revenue declines in the first and second quarters of this year, was spun off in August from parent Tribune Company and its more lucrative TV stations. Wednesday marked Tribune Publishing's second earnings report as an independent company and first earnings call with investors.

Like other print-based media companies, Tribune Publishing is facing stiff headwinds as marketers divert their advertising budgets from traditional channels -- including print, radio and arguably even TV -- to digital media, where abundant competition and automated ad-buying technology are depressing advertising rates.

The company has sought to carve out a marketing-services business aimed at advising small and mid-size businesses on their digital needs. That has included a minority investment in content marketing firm Contend to produce branded videos for advertisers.

Michael Rooney, a former Wall Street Journal and ESPN executive, was hired this week as chief revenue officer to oversee sales and marketing, including the marketing-services business, called 435Digital.

During the third quarter, 435Digital generated just $6 million in revenue, Mr. Griffin told investors. "We believe there is a significant growth potential in this arena," he added.

Most Popular
In this article: