Newsmedia group Lee Enterprises – which bought Warren Buffet’s mastheads when the billionaire investor fell out of love with newspapers – joins America’s tech elite when it lists on the Nasdaq market on Monday.
Lee outlined its strategy for digital growth last week, stressing plans to accelerate subscription growth, and expand video and other niche content including podcasts.
Putting figures on that, it’s looking to build digital subs from its current 286,000 to 900,000, and earn US$100 million a year from its ‘amplified digital agency’, while pulling down borrowing to less than two-and-a-half times.
Lee paid a reported US$140 million for the Berkshire Hathaway newspapers, but Publishers Daily said that while costs had been cut, so had jobs, citing Charlottesville and Roanoke in Virginia among sites where savings had been made.
Chief executive Kevin Mowbray said Lee – which publishes in 77 markets – had made “significant investments in talent and technology” to realise its digital future.
He claimed “industry-leading digital subscriber growth” of more than 69 per cent in each of the last five quarters.
Revenue for 2020 of US$795 million included $20 million for TownNews Digital Services. Digital revenue had fallen 30 per cent to US$114 million.
Pictured: Lee delivers local news, information and advertising in 77 markets in 26 US states