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WWE, rupee softening to keep ZEEL sports biz loss at Rs 1 bn in FY15

MUMBAI: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is expecting its sports losses to be around Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) this fiscal, similar to what it was a year ago.

Though there is no India cricket, the re-pricing of content like WWE and cricket due to softening of the rupee will keep the losses in FY15 at the previous fiscal level. ZEEL renewed rights to WWE at a higher price while its existing cricket rights fees went up on account of rupee depreciation. ZEEL also had to pay higher for obtaining the rights to show the Pakistan cricket series.

“We have had properties like the Commonwealth Games, the Pakistan cricket series with Australia and New Zealand, which is coming up. We have already had a West Indies-Bangladesh series. We also had the U.S. Open. So some of those properties, plus the renewal on the WWE will keep the losses at around last year’s level. There is also an element of foreign exchange as most of our deals are in U.S. dollars,” said a ZEEL executive.

After being EBITDA positive for two straight quarters, ZEEL’s sports business once again suffered an operating loss. For the quarter ended 30 September 2014, the loss stood at Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million). Revenue stood at Rs 118.1 crore (Rs 1.18 billion), while cost incurred during the quarter was Rs 143.1 crore (Rs 1.43 billion).

During the quarter, the sporting properties on the channels included Sri Lanka versus South Africa and Pakistan versus Sri Lanka cricket series, West Indies versus Bangladesh cricket series, Commonwealth Games 2014, US Open and Tour De France.

In FY14, the sports loss stood at Rs 97.5 crore (Rs 975 million) on a revenue of Rs 660 crore (Rs 6.60 billion). The sports business had turned around in the last quarter of FY14.

For the first half of this fiscal, ZEEL has incurred operating loss of Rs 23.8 crore (Rs 238 million). Sans India cricket, revenue is at Rs 215.7 crore (Rs 2.16 billion).

ZEEL’s sports broadcast business includes subsidiary Taj Television, which owns and operates Ten Sports, Ten Cricket, Ten Action, Ten Golf and Ten HD.