Rough Q2 for TV news firms

MUMBAI: News channels are badly bruised by an ad slump in the second quarter as monies have shifted to Hindi general entertainment and sports channels.

The turnover of most of the listed news companies has eroded in a quarter when other genres of broadcasting have gained in an improved advertising economy.

TV Today, which runs India’s most popular Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, has seen a 6.6 per cent revenue fall over the year-ago period due to lower inventory utilisation. NDTV’s second-quarter revenue from the news business also slipped 6.1 per cent.

“There is a growing concern that TV news business in India is going through a rough patch. The third quarter will see a significant recovery due to the festive season but we could be headed for a slow revenue growth for the sector in the backdrop of increasing commoditisation,” said a media analyst who has been tracking the sector.

TV Today’s consolidated Ebitda, in fact, turned negative for the first time in 24 quarters. Net loss stood at Rs 76 million.

“While revenue fell, staff and distribution expenses grew. Investments also went into Headlines Today and Tez for their revival. The third quarter will see a drastic improvement and TV Today will turn profitable again,” an analyst said.
  For the TV broadcasting segment, TV Today posted a revenue of Rs 596.22 million and an operating loss of Rs 40.57 million. In the trailing quarter, the company had posted a revenue of Rs 641.39 million and an operating profit of Rs 49.05 million.

NDTV suffered from weak sales and posted a standalone Ebitda loss of Rs 233 million and net loss of Rs 343 million.

"It has been a bad quarter generally for everybody in the news business from a revenue perspective. There has been a shift in advertising from news to GECs and sports channels. In the earlier year, some stability had come into the market in the second quarter. But the good news is that there seems to be a strong recovery in the third quarter coinciding with the festive season," said NDTV Group CEO KVL Narayan Rao.

TV18 improved its performance in the fiscal second-quarter but IBN18 Broadcast continues to post losses.

Zee News Ltd chief executive officer Barun Das feels the decision to stick to hard news has worked for the company. “It has not been one of the best quarters for TV news. But we have seen revenue growth. We have the advantage of having regional news channels in our network. Sticking to hard news has worked for us. On the Ebitda level, we have performed beyond our expectations in the first two quarters. We were expecting to be Ebitda negative but have turned positive,” he said.

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