TV18 Q3 consolidated rev declines due to weak ad environment

MUMBAI: TV18’s consolidated revenue for the quarter ended 31st December has declined due to sluggishness in the advertising market. Amidst the weak ad environment, the subscription revenue provided the silver lining for the company.

The company’s consolidated operating EBITDA surged 145% to Rs 281 crore from Rs 115 crore driven by content partnerships, subscription growth and substantial cost controls. The consolidated net profit for the period stood at Rs 205 crore as against Rs 147 crore.

Operating EBITDA from the entertainment business comprising Viacom18+AETN18+IndiaCast increased 262% to Rs 245 crore from Rs 68 crore. The news business operating profit declined 24% to Rs 36 crore from Rs 47 crore.

TV18 invested Rs 13 crore in regional movie channels (Kannada and Gujarati Cinema) and subscription-offerings (Voot Kids, Freemium & International) during the quarter. EBITDA includes impact from initiatives launched more than a year ago but are in gestation, including Voot and Colors Tamil.

Expenses dropped to Rs 1220 crore from Rs 1423 crore. In sync with the ad-environment, the company streamlined the operating costs. Both quantum and cost of programming were tweaked for efficiency, and focus was maintained on key shows.

Entertainment revenue declined 4% to Rs 1,137 crore from Rs 1,184 crore. The standalone revenue from news business declined by 1% to Rs 288 crore from Rs 290 crore due to headwinds in BFSI sector, weak government spends, and limited international advertising.

Subscription revenue for the quarter increased 40% to Rs 458 crore from Rs 327 crore. The growth was boosted by the accrual of linear TV subscription due to the implementation of the NTO (New Tariff Order) and multiple partnerships with digital platforms.

On the ad revenue front, the company stated that advertising recovered around the festive season, however, it continued to remain under pressure. Further, the prevalent weakness in macro-environment and sluggish spending appetite by advertisers continued to drag ad-revenue down YoY for both News and Entertainment.

It also pointed out that the shift of channels from DD Free Dish to pay ecosystem impacted Hindi GEC ad revenues for all the top broadcasters. The company noted that the government initiatives to boost growth and a natural refresh-and-recalibration of ad-budgets should revive ad-growth as we head towards the new fiscal.

Growth in annuity-style revenue filled in for the temporary dip in cyclical advertising revenue, TV18 said. Ex-film, the entertainment revenue was flat YoY. Content monetisation through partnership deals in both B2B and B2C helped offset the decline in broadcast advertising.

Commenting on the Q3 results, TV18 chairman Adil Zainulbhai said, “Our emphasis on delivering value to the consumer, expanding the partner ecosystem and raising profitability were the primary milestones during the past quarter. Amidst a difficult ad-environment and continued regulatory flux, the rise in rankings for flagship channels is a positive indicator for the future. We are constantly adjusting our programming and business model for the continual technology, consumer and regulatory changes in the business.”

During the quarter, the company’s kids edutainment product Voot Kids progressed to a commercial launch with promotional plans. Voot’s freemium version with offerings like digital-exclusive and digital-first broadcast content as well as original content behind a pay-wall is slated to be launched soon.

TV18 group’s Q3 entertainment viewership share rose to 10.1% vs 9.2% last quarter. TV18’s Q3 average viewership share in the news genre was 10.2%, down from 10.9% in Q2. The bouquet regained the number 1 viewership ranking by the end of the quarter. TV18 owns and operates a network of 56 channels in India spanning news and entertainment.