Tribune Publishing (TPCO) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

TPCO earnings call for the period ending December 30, 2018.

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Tribune Publishing (NASDAQ:TPCO)Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
March 13, 2019, 5:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

See all our earnings call transcripts.

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Tribune Publishing Company Fourth Quarter 2018 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session, instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Amy Bullis, Vice President of Finance. You may begin, ma'am.

Amy Bullis -- Vice President of Finance

Thank you, and welcome to our fourth quarter 2018 earnings conference call. Before we begin, I would like to remind you that management will make forward-looking statements during the course of this call and our actual results could differ materially. Statements containing words such as may, believe, anticipate, expect, intent, plan, will, continue, estimate, outlook or other similar expressions are forward-looking statements. Material differences in our actual results from those described in these forward-looking statements may result in actions taken by the Company as well as from risks and uncertainties beyond the Company's control. Some of these risks and uncertainties that could impact our businesses are included in documents publicly filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our annual report on Form 10-K.

I should also mention that our remarks today will include references to non-GAAP financial measures, including adjusted EBITDA, adjusted total operating expenses, adjusted net income, adjusted diluted earnings per share, adjusted EBITDA margin and net debt. And we have provided definitions and reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures in our earnings press release, which is available on our website at investor.tribpub.com.

Joining me today is CEO and President, Tim Knight; and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Terry Jimenez. I will now turn the call over to CEO and President, Tim Knight.

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Amy. I'm excited to be here with you today from my first earnings call as CEO. I would like to start with my perspective on the business, our approach to capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead and touch on the progress we have made thus far. Terry will then discuss our financial results for the fourth quarter and the year and provide our outlook for 2019.

I rejoined Tribune just over two years ago, because I recognized the terrific opportunity. I saw business with great assets that was in the early stages of a transformation in response to the rapidly changing media environment. We have made a lot of progress in capitalizing on those opportunities. For example, we have invested in and begun deploying the infrastructure necessary to place our award winning journalism front and center before consumers in the digital world.

In addition, our effort to reposition the business reached a critical milestone this year and that we grew our paid digital subscriber base to 250,000 at the end of 2018. This represents a 5x increase since the Company began these efforts in earnest just three years ago. This past year was a pivotal one for Tribune Publishing as our portfolio underwent significant changes. We purchased a 60% interest in BestReviews and acquired the Virginian-Pilot group, while we divested the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and forsalebyowner.com as well as restructured our affiliation agreement with Cars.com.

I am pleased with how our teams came together and remained focused on executing our plan during this year of change. During 2018, we also significantly reduced our debt and pension liabilities leaving us with a healthy balance sheet. As we enter 2019, we are opportunistic -- we are optimistic about the strength of our business and the opportunities that lie ahead. We are pleased to announce that the Board approved a new $25 million two year stock repurchase program. The program demonstrates the confidence we have in the strength of our business and our ability to generate cash flow. As part of our disciplined capital allocation strategy, we will continue to make the necessary investments in people and products and work to return capital to shareholders as we work to deliver shareholder value.

Looking ahead, our management team is focused on four key areas to achieve our objectives. One, expanding and deepening our engagement with a digital audience that pace for our journalism. Two, selling and delivering a range of digital advertising, marketing and commerce solutions. Three, optimizing cash flow from our traditional print business. And four, ensuring we have the right team and organizational structure to execute our plan.

Let me take a few moments to expand on each of these strategic priorities. Starting with our online strategy. Across the entire Company, we have come to embrace the vital importance of both growing our overall audience as well as more deeply engaging our digital subscribers. As we have mentioned on prior calls, we have partnered with the Washington Post art publishing group, to better align our journalist roles and workflows in order to grow our digital audience.

We successfully completed a full implementation of art at the Hartford Courant in December and we will complete these roll-outs in our other newsrooms over the next few months. In addition, our investment in the last few years in our data and analytics organization has given us the tools to leverage real time insights on audience tendencies. These insights have informed newsroom decisions on what to cover, how best to present our journalism and where to deploy resources. This data driven approach directly leads to more engaged readers and subscribers.

Next, I want to discuss our advertising, marketing and commerce solutions group. In addition -- in line with our efforts to grow our audience, this past year, we also accelerated the transformation of our advertising departments in each of our eight markets by aggressively recruiting sales leaders and associates with digital sales experience. In addition, we are continuing to invest in the portfolio of marketing solutions to make each of our local business units more valuable to our advertising partners.

Two examples of these efforts. First is exemplified by the outstanding work of our Studio 1847 team in partnership with the Chicago Tribune. For these efforts, Studio 1847 was named a finalist for the International News Media Association's 2018 best execution of native advertising award. Second, following our investment in BestReviews, our local titles partnered with the site to promote the brand in our markets. This work led to increased direct revenue, and a meaningful improvement in BestReviews' site search performance.

Another key priority for Tribune is continuing to optimize the cash flow generated from our traditional print business, while growing our digital audience and revenue. We made significant progress in this regard during 2018. We launched our Print Design and Production Studio to manage the layout of each of our newspapers. We have already transitioned 0.75 (ph) of our main titles and we'll have the balance of the papers transitioned by the middle of 2019.

In addition, under Terry's leadership, we entered into new agreements with union drivers in New York and Chicago as part of our plan to increase operational flexibility and reduce the financial obligations associated with applicable multi-employer pension plans. As you know, the industry has seen a series of significant and well publicized headcount reductions to offset declines in traditional revenue. We certainly have not been immune to those reductions and controlling costs remains one of our key priorities.

However, I think it is also important to highlight that we continue to invest in the business to fuel future growth. We are hiring talented journalists and sales associates in each of our markets. These roles are the lifeblood of our business and our new hires have the skills necessary to help us succeed in growing digital audience and revenue in order for us to deliver long-term shareholder value. We need sales, marketing, products and operational people at every level of the organization to effectively and profitably distribute our journalism where, when and how audiences want to consume it. We are very focused on recruiting the right talents for every position.

As I mentioned, this means investing in editorial talent to ensure our journalism remains world-class. Quality editorial is the foundation for everything we do, and in 2018, the work of our talented journalist earn much recognition. A few examples include, the Scripps Howard award for breaking news coverage was awarded to the Sun-Sentinel for the reporting on the Parkland school shootings.

The Chicago Tribune won The Al Neuharth's Innovation in Investigative Journalism award for its Betrayed series, which examines the frequency of educator sexual misconduct in Chicago public schools and the systematic failures and culture of secrecy that enable these crimes to incur. The strength and resilience of our colleagues at the Annapolis Capital Gazette was honored by Time magazine when they named the staff of the Capital Gazette to their annual person of the year list. And Capital Gazette editor Rick Hutzell was named the Benjamin C. Bradlee, editor of the year In recognition of his leadership following the shooting in his newsroom that took the lives of our five colleagues Gerald Fischman, Robert Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. We honored the memory of those -- colleagues and take inspiration from them to serve our communities every day.

Lastly, we took important steps to ensure that we have the right organizational structure in place to support our teams. Since I became CEO in January, we have reduced the number of management layers to facilitate greater focus and accountability, while improving speed and collaboration around decision making. It is still early, but we are encouraged by the improvement we have already seen in these areas. We undertake all of these efforts with the ultimate goal of maintaining the strongest and most engaging media platform in each of our local markets. Overall, we believe that the execution of our strategy combined with our strong focus on cash flow generation will create long-term shareholder value.

I will now turn this over to Terry to discuss our fourth quarter results.

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Tim. Let me start with a few housekeeping items. As previously discussed, we classified the balance sheets and results related to the California properties and for sale by owner has discontinued operations for both 2018 and 2017 reporting periods as a result of their divestiture. Also to aid in comparison purposes, I will make sure that I speak to with and without certain activities to give you a better view on organic results. I will refer to this as same business results and will exclude four components. The first is activity from acquisitions of the BestReviews and Virginian-Pilot, which are in the 2018 results but not in the 2017 results.

The second is the impact from Cars.com amended agreement, which was discussed on previous earnings calls, drives year-over-year comparison distortions for digital advertising revenue, but has minimal impact on profitability. The third relates to the transition services revenue recorded for the services we're providing to the new owners of the California properties, which also has a minimal impact on the bottom line.

Finally, the fourth item, we'll be adjusting for the extra week in our 2017 fiscal year. The fourth quarter of 2017 had 14 weeks of operations included in the results and the fourth quarter of 2018 had 13 weeks. So, I will adjust by taking out the extra week where applicable. And the full year 2017 had 53 operating weeks versus 52 operating weeks in our fiscal year 2018. The exclusion of these elements is the basis for same business comparisons.

Total revenues for the fourth quarter of 2018 were $283.5 million, down 4.2% from the same quarter in 2017. On a same-business basis, total revenue declined 7.6%, primarily due to continuing print advertising revenue declines. Our consolidated fourth quarter 2018 operating expenses were $287.4 million, down from $290.3 million versus the fourth quarter of 2017. Same business adjusted operating expenses were down $25.1 million or 12.3% on a year-over-year basis in the quarter as we continue to aggressively and thoughtfully manage our expenses.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, our income from continuing operations totaled $4 million compared to a loss of $4.8 million in the same quarter of 2017. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we had net income attributable to Tribune stockholders of $2.4 million or $0.07 per share compared to a net loss of $400,000 or $0.01 per share in the fourth quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter -- for the fourth quarter was $46.5 million compared to $35.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Driving the increase, year-over-year adjusted EBITDA were due to the operating results from BestReviews and Virginian-Pilot assets, expense reductions outpacing the level of revenue declines on the core business, but partially muting this year-over-year growth.

Our increase in the newsprint pricing, which are up 27% year-over-year resulted in an expense increase of over $2 million, the extra week in 2017 and a partial impact from a cyber threat that occurred in the last week of the year, which I'll explain further. In December of 2018, the Company was attacked by a ransomware virus, which locked up certain Company's systems and data required implementation components of the Company's business continuity plans and restoration of data from backups. The Company investigated the incident and determined that have did not result in any unauthorized access to or acquisition of sensitive data stored within our systems. We are pleased and proud of how our organization and our people had rallied around to get newspapers to our customers and continuing to serve our advertising and commercial clients.

From a balance sheet point of view, we continue to have a very strong and stable position. We have $141.5 million of cash, made up of $97.6 million of unrestricted and $43.9 million as restricted cash. In April 2019, we will pay the final taxes due of $6.2 million related to the transaction in California. We continue to have no debt with the exception of approximately $7 million in capital leases that are classified as debt. Our pension liability sits at $20.2 million, which is lower than the end of 2017's balance and our asset performance virtually was impacted by the weak December performance in the equity markets, but those markets have since rebounded.

In terms of capital expenditures, we have invested on our technology infrastructure as well as two office locations, one in Chicago and the other in Baltimore, both resulting in lower expenses and on ongoing basis. Gross CapEx was $4.2 million in the fourth quarter and $53.2 million for the full year, as previously mentioned for reporting purposes, the tenant improvement allowance received which effectively reduces our cash outlays for the office locations is amortized and offset against ongoing rent expense versus a net capital presentation. We anticipate a much lower capital spend in 2019 and moving forward.

Now I will touch on the performance of each of our reporting segments. Total revenues for -- in the fourth quarter 2018 were $227 million, which was down 8.3% compared to the fourth quarter of the prior year. On a same business basis, total revenues were down 8.5% as we continue to experience downside pressure in print advertising, but we did see an improvement in this trend sequentially, where we were down 11.2% in the third quarter. Print advertising was down 12% on a same business basis, which was also significant a sequential improvement where we were down 18.1% in the third quarter on a year-over-year basis. X had $49.4 million of total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018, which was up 1.2% compared to the prior year quarter. The growth came from digital-only subscription revenue, the Virginian-Pilot and BestReviews, partially offset by declining Cars.com revenue in the extra week in 2017. We continue to see solid traction growing our digital paid subscribers.

Now turning to our guidance. Given we are deep into the first quarter, we thought it'd be helpful to provide Q1 as well as full year outlook. For Q1 2019, we anticipate total revenue to fall between $235 million to $240 million, and for adjusted EBITDA, we anticipate we will fall into the $18 million to $19 million range. This will show year-over-year growth in adjusted EBITDA by approximately $10 million in the quarter.

For the full year 2019, we anticipate adjusted EBITDA to be $100 million to $105 million for the full year. This guidance reflects the following items from an adjusted EBITDA perspective. Realizing savings from expense reduction actions we executed in the second and third quarters of last year, the voluntary separation program we launched midway through the fourth quarter which will realize $16 million of annualized savings. And as Tim referenced, we had brought out a number of -- we had bought out a number of drivers in our transportation unit in both Chicago and New York, which will realize significant savings.

In Chicago, we will be increasing our pension contributions to shore up our pension funding in Chicago. We have reorganized our executive team to be more efficient at the corporate level and thus we expect to realize significant savings. We also expect year-over-year savings and real estate expenses, given the new office rationalization.

And finally, we are optimistic we will see newsprint continue to ease as we cycle the nearly 20-year peak pricing we faced in 2018. We continue to be excited about the future and we believe with investments to grow organically, layered with future potential acquisitions, we will remain in a solid financial position over the next three to five years.

As previously discussed, on a longer-term outlook, we are focused on three core goals. First, consolidated revenue growth, which we experience for the full year 2018. Margin expansion, of which we had significant expansion in Q4 on a year-over-year basis. And growth to 1 million digital subscribers and at the end of 2018, as Tim had mentioned, we had 250,000 digital-only subscribers, which is more than three times where we were in the same quarter in 2016 just two years ago. We are organizing our Company to achieve these goals and we are excited about the future.

With that, we'll now open the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) And our first question comes from Lance Vitanza from Cowen. Your line is now open.

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking the questions. I thought the quarter looked pretty good, but it was a bit off from the guidance. I was wondering if you could start with just sort of a discussion of how the EBITDA could be? If you could bridge us from what you had been thinking at the end of the third quarter call in terms of what you got and then likewise, sort of, as you think about '18 versus '19, how we kind of get back to that higher level of EBITDA just in sort of -- in the big buckets on the cost side, on the revenue side, print versus digital, et cetera?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, sure. So, from a revenue point of view, we came within guidance, but we did come in lower end of the range and we were more hopeful it would be in the middle. So, we had some slight softness, while sequentially we saw some improvements, we came in a little bit softer where we thought. But we've seen some more momentum come into the Q1. So, we're more optimistic there. And then from an expense point of view, there is a number of expense reductions that we were earmarking for -- to occur earlier in the quarter and were realized most of the reductions occurred really at the end of December or starting to get realized in kind of the middle December time frame and then into really January.

So, from a timing point of view, those savings shifted a little bit more than we initially had anticipated. And as we closed out the year, which happens from an accounting point of view, as we look at reserves and adjustments, we had a reserve adjustment for several million dollars that we thought was prudent to take, and then workers comp was another area that we looked at the reserve and based on actuarial analysis, we had an increase for some estimated exposure there.

Typically those things will come and go, sometimes it'll help you, sometimes it'll hurt you and unfortunately we just had a handful of things that went against us and not as much going for us. But again, over time, I think all that smooths out.

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

And putting the guidance aside, the EBITDA, if we take out the acquisitions roughly $41 million versus $35 million a year ago. How much would that revenue was the $70 million of revenue -- of extra revenue from the extra week? How much of that would have translated into EBITDA in the year-ago quarter?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Bear with us a second. We'll get you the exact number. I recall, it was about -- around $3 million, Lance.

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Okay. So, call it $41 million versus -- low 40s (ph) versus low 30s (ph), that's a pretty good year-over-year improvement. I guess the big question is, given the -- restructuring charges went up quite a bit in the quarter, at least year-over-year. I don't have the sequential numbers in front of me, but it does make the question, is adjusted EBITDA, is that the right metric to gauge the performance trends here? And how much -- what do you expect to see if we look out over the course of '19 both on sort of the cadence basis and then just for the full year, how much is sort of baked into the guidance in terms of restructuring add backs?

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So, we don't guide specifically to where the restructuring will fall. I'd say that, what we experience, there is definitely a number of one-time items, the transportation unit, restructuring that occurred really at the end of December benefiting financially 2019, but hurting from a one-time charge point of view in '18. That was significant north of $10 million. That won't be an ongoing recurring charge. And then, there was a number of other things like our voluntary program, which is going to generate roughly $16 million of savings. We spent a lot less than that on severance, but also it was a big chunk of change. And so, I think as we move forward, I think we're going to be operating at a much lower level of restructuring charges from what we had in 2018.

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

If I could just get one more in. Just a bigger picture question on pay wells (ph). I'm curious to get your sense for how they're progressing, not necessarily with respect to your titles only, but I certainly feel like I'm much more frequently prompted to subscribe on a trial basis, provided user ID, credit card information, what have you, when I'm on the web looking for new stories. What is your experience been? What inning are we in? Do you see this being an additional tailwind or a headwind before we get to the tailwind? How should we be thinking about that?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Lance, it's Tim. We look at it as extraordinarily important for the industry and for us in particular to continue to get consumers to pay for our quality content. I think consumers are acknowledging that the quality content is worth paying for the investments we've been making in the product portfolio, especially around and continue to make around mobile will be important to capture people and have -- and decrease the challenges we have on having them pay real easily.

I think it's early on still, we've got a 0.25 million digital-only subscribers who pay us. We've seen nice growth on that. We anticipate continued growth this year, both on the volume and we're seeing, we're -- as I mentioned in my comments, our data and analytics investments have helped us to understand the consumers' needs more and we've taken that data and used and are continuing to use it with the news rooms to make sure that they're pursuing the content that the audience in each of our markets really is valuing and is willing to pay for. So short answer is, important, very important, see -- kind of a big shift toward that across all major media operations early on and a lot more opportunity going forward.

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Michael Kupinski from NOBLE Capital Markets. Your line is now open.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thank you. Thanks for taking the questions, and good afternoon. Your revenue guidance and cash flow guidance for the first quarter and full year is better than what I would have expected. And I was wondering, you mentioned that you're seeing sequential improvement in revenue trends that I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about where you're seeing the moderating revenue trends in the first quarter?

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So, for us on the advertising side, there's certainly a number of challenges, without question, but I think we're seeing some of the cycling of some of the big time, one-time events of bankruptcies and others that we've cycled against. So there's a little bit of easing of the pain there. There's also some national advertising programs that have been running that have also given us a little bit of a boost on the print side of things. And then in terms of digital efforts, we continue to make sure that we're moving that in the right direction and we're again cycling against some issues that we had earlier in the 2018.

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

And Mike, it's Tim -- let me just add on also is that, in the past year, we essentially 15 month changed out the ad VP in each of our markets and have hired what we called digital general managers, so people who specialize in digital advertising sales for each market. So a lot of it is building the right team to be able to execute on the opportunities we see out there.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got you. And regarding your transportation restructuring, is that I assume was mostly in New York and Chicago, is that right?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Correct. Just those two markets.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay. I got you. And then in New York is this -- are those now -- is that publication now profitable? Or is it on a path to be profitable? What was it like in the fourth quarter?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So we've made significant progress. When we look at obviously the business itself and stand-alone profitability as well as there are some synergies that we experienced in the Northeast, so prints our Allentown publication, the morning call. And so when you factor all that in as well, the stand-alone performance. It exited the year up.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got you. And then in terms of your print and production facilities, are you pretty much we're stable now? Or there opportunities -- further opportunities to consolidate those?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

So we have conversations with a number of our peers within the markets that we serve. We've got -- where we still have those facilities, Chicago, New York, being the two largest we're certainly more the aggregator. And we think, that there's more opportunities within those markets. And then some of our other mid-markets, we do think that there is even more consolidation opportunities as well. So we're looking at each of them to help drive some revenue growth there.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

And in terms of newsprint prices, you mentioned that was up strongly in the fourth quarter, are you seeing any rollbacks in the -- from the big price increase in the fourth quarter?

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

I wouldn't call it roll back, because that would be a substantial decrease. There's definitely really easing of it, and so we're seeing where the peak of it really occurred kind of mid to late third quarter in terms of the pricing after the tariffs were we reversed. We saw some easing right away, not a huge jump or drop down. But we continue to see a month to month, a little bit of easing in the pain. But we're still up on a year-over-year basis.

I think in the third quarter we were up around 32% year-over-year price wise. And in fourth quarter, we were up 27%. So we're hoping to get back down to flat and at some point and hopefully the foreseeable future will see newsprint prices hopefully lower on a year-over-year basis. But not sure when and how quickly that will happen.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got you. And final question, can you talk a little bit about your thoughts regarding the acquisitions at this point, maybe the market environment, your appetite or maybe some acquisitions.

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

You know, Mike, we don't comment on anything in particular, but we've -- as we've said, every quarter and we continue to look at things that won't be opportunistic. So we have a strong balance sheet and we have key markets and we take a look at opportunities where we can strengthen our position and make sure we deliver on shareholder value.

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got you. Thanks.

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Doug Arthur from Huber Research. Your line is now open.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

Yeah. Thank you. Terry. I'm just trying to reconcile the second to last schedule where you reconcile your operating expenses with the adjustments I guess without DNA an impairment. It's about, there is $92 million of adjustments to get to adjusted comp newsprint et cetera for the fourth quarter. Obviously that's -- that's considerably higher than what you're showing in the segment results. So -- these restructurings, the transportation, et cetera. Can you -- can you sort of break those out or is that something we should do offline. Just trying to -- what the underlying comp number is?

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. I think what we -- I could clarify it, certainly getting a little bit deeper offline is the adjustments, what we're trying to get you is also a same business view as well. And so we're taking out any expenses associated with the Virginian-Pilot and BestReviews, so that when you get to the adjusted column on a year-over-year basis you're comparing the same businesses. So, it looks a lot higher than the actual restructuring charges are.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

Okay. So you're trying to same store that. Okay.

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

Okay, understood. And then in terms of print ad trends, if I heard you correctly 18% down in Q3, 12% in Q4, is that all print? Or is there something else in there? That's a pretty significant improvement.

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yeah. So that's all print.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

And that goes back to what you just said to Mike about at least some national programs and some easing comps and I mean is there -- was there any particular property that drove that? Or is it -- was it more across the board?

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No, it was across the board.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

Okay. And then I guess finally, on the 250,000 of digital paying subs. I mean is a 1 million -- do you have 1 million sub potential within your universe in your view or is that something that might come through more acquisitions?

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

So, I think the $1 million from my view is, when you look at it, a five-year time frame, personally we've got, I think a really good team. We've got a data team that's helping really us helping drive this as well and support this. I think the $1 million is achievable more of the five year time frame. I think that can get accelerated through acquisitions and that's where the three-year window is probably more likely.

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

Okay. All right, great. Thank you very much.

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And I'm not showing any further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back to Tim Knight, CEO and President, for closing remarks.

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, everyone for joining us on today's call. 2018 was a transformative year for Tribune Publishing Company. Throughout our organization, we laid new groundwork for sustained success. We look forward to building on the momentum we gained last year as part of these transformations and anticipate a successful 2019 through the continued execution of our strategy. Thank you very much.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today's conference. This concludes today's program. You may all disconnect. Everyone have a great day.

Duration: 38 minutes

Call participants:

Amy Bullis -- Vice President of Finance

Timothy P. Knight -- Chief Executive Officer

Terry Jimenez -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Lance Vitanza -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Michael Kupinski -- NOBLE Capital Markets -- Analyst

Doug Arthur -- Huber Research -- Analyst

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