BLOOMINGTON – Digital revenue in both subscriptions and online advertising continues to grow for Lee Enterprises Inc., the parent company of The Pantagraph, Decatur Herald & Review, Mattoon JG-TC and Woodford County Journal, in Q3 numbers released Thursday. The total revenue was down 4% at $127.3 million.
Operating expenses were down 4.7% for the quarter.
According to Lee President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kevin Mowbray, total digital revenue was up, along with revenue from subsidiary TownNews and a partnership with BH Media Group that has exceeded expectations.
"Total revenue decreased 4% in the third quarter, matching the second quarter trend, as we continue the company's digital transformation," said Mowbray in a statement. "Total digital revenue, including digital advertising and digital services, was $30.5 million for the quarter, up 5.3% on a same-property basis compared with a year ago."
He added digital advertising revenue increased for the quarter, which represents more than a third of total advertising revenue. Digital retail advertising represented about two-thirds of total digital advertising.
Monthly visits to Lee mobile, tablet, desktop and app sites averaged 74.1 million. Page views per visit, a metric used to monitor engagement, also increased, as did the number of digital-only subscribers.
"We continue to transform our business models and reduce our legacy cost structure," said Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Tim Millage. "Operating expenses were down 4.7% in the June quarter with cash costs down 5.2%. On a same-property basis, cash costs were down 7.6%. We expect cash costs on a same property basis to be down 4.75 to 5.5% in fiscal year 2019."
Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, serves 50 markets in 20 states through its print, digital and specialty publications.