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TV18 revenues up 11% in Q1 FY19 to Rs 1,088 cr; narrows losses in regional news

TV18 reported a consolidated operating EBITDA of Rs 39 crore in Q1 FY2019 (a sharp improvement YoY) despite impact of losses from the start-up of Colors Tamil. Business-as-usual EBITDA margin for Entertainment business improved significantly, while losses in Regional News also reduced. Consolidated operating revenues at Rs 1,088 crore grew 11 per cent YoY (on a comparable basis) from Rs 979 crore in Q1 FY2018. 

Subscription revenues for TV18’s entire bouquet grew 10 per cent YoY. Advertising and other revenues benefitted from the improving industry environment and our full-portfolio offering. 

TV18’s News bouquet, comprising 20 channels, is #1. News viewership share rose to 10.3 per cent during the quarter, driven by Hindi and Regional channels, to emerge as the top news network in India. Business News maintained its growth by virtue of its industry leading position, and General News continued to be driven by stellar performance of its Hindi News channel. Regional News revenues grew smartly after a prolonged weakness, led by improved channel performance, integrated approach (including branding) and tailwinds from government/ election-related spending. Infotainment has been growing well too, helped by History TV18’s new HD feed and digital extensions. All these led to an overall improvement in profitability, especially as losses in regional news fell sharply YoY on a fairly stable cost-base. 

Viacom18 bouquet’s (30 channels) share of entertainment viewership rose to 11.4 per cent. Flagship channel Colors ended the quarter as a leader in the pay-GEC charts in Urban HSM. During the quarter, the channel averaged a ~17 per cent viewership share in urban pay GECs, and had an 8.3 per cent overall viewership share in Urban+Rural. The new fiction launch, ‘Naagin Season 3’, witnessed the highest opening for any fiction launch across Hindi GECs. Talent hunt show ‘Dance Deewane’ opened with average viewership of 7.6 million, highest across any dance show format. 

Regional GECs in Marathi and Kannada gained, while Gujarati and Bengali too saw much improved monetisation. A solid show by Kids channels and MTV Beats offset genre weakness in English entertainment and Youth. 

Entertainment topline growth has been constrained by lower hours of non-fiction programming and lesser film premieres compared to the base quarter, and a late start for Season 3 of marquee franchise ‘Naagin’, which has been the #1 fiction show. The tweaks in programming have resulted in an improvement in EBITDA margins for the business. Adjusting for the Rs 34 crore losses of Colors Tamil in Q1, business-as-usual margins for Entertainment have expanded from sub-4 per cent to 8.3 per cent. 

The industry environment has been recovering, and advertising is on an upswing in general. Sentiment has been positive as growth revives in the new financial year, tempered in part by macro-factors like hardening interest rates and a depreciating Indian rupee. 

Commenting on the financial performance, Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman of Network18, said, “Our television channels reach out to 700 million people across the country, making every 1 in 2 Indians our consumer. We have 53 domestic channels across news and entertainment, making us a formidable player. The improving advertising environment and our rising viewership are positives, as we continue investing into growing our offerings across genres.”

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