Crown Media net revenue up 52 per cent

MUMBAI: Crown Media Holdings has reported its operating results for the three months ended 30 September 2002, posting a net revenue increase of 52 per cent.

The media major's net revenue in the quarter just ended stands at $40.1 million, up from $26.3 million in the prior year's quarter. Advertising revenues for the quarter totaled $18.2 million, an increase of 103 per cent from the third quarter of 2001. Hallmark Channel subscribers increased 15 per cent to 95.7 million worldwide as of 30 September 2002, from 82.9 million subscribers as of 30 September, 2001.

It was reported last month that the channel would look to cut over 100 jobs in the Asia region in a bid to contain operating costs. It has already closed down its Singapore sales office.

The channel ended the quarter with 47.5 million subscribers in the United States and 48.2 million international subscribers across 110 countries. Subscribers of the domestic channel increased 20 per cent, and subscribers of the international channel increased 12 per cent over the third quarter 2001. For the twelve months ended 30 September 2002, Hallmark Channel was the fastest growing cable network in the US based on subscribers, claims an official release.

In the US during the quarter just ended, the channel premiered the two-part Hallmark Entertainment produced Johnson County War, which became the network's second highest rated original mini-series. Total day viewership increased by 50 per cent for female adults (25 to 54) as compared to the third quarter of 2001.

Hallmark Channel US will launch the Hallmark Keepsake Sweepstakes in conjunction with approximately 4,500 Hallmark Gold Crown(R) stores this November. The largest ever promotion between a cable channel and a retail network, it will include the broadcast of five world premiere holiday events from mid-November through Christmas, the release says. Over 140 million game pieces will be distributed and more than two million prizes will be given away in this holiday "match and win" contest.

Crown Media, that announced corporate restructuring of its operations in October plans to implement its new strategy by decentralizing many oversight and non-technical support functions located in its US offices and transferring these responsibilities to regional staff. In Latin America, the company is in negotiations to enter into a strategic alliance with a local distribution partner who, under Crown Media's direction, will manage the Hallmark Channel in this region, says the release. 

The restructuring, which is expected to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2003, will result in a 30 per cent reduction of the Company's workforce, the release says.

Hallmark Channel will continue to be distributed to its global subscriber base of over 95 million. Once the restructuring is completed, the company expects to realize annual savings of $25 million related to decreased overhead and amortization costs, facilitating the company's plan to achieve EBITDA breakeven in the second half of 2003.

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