Television

Q1-2015: Turner record results overcome Warner Bros, HBO downturn for Time Warner

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BENGALURU: Turner’s record adjusted operating income growth of 26 per cent to $1128 million for Q1-2015 as compared to the $895 million in Q1-2014 was offset in part by declines at Warner Bros. and Home Box Office (HBO) says Time Warner Inc.

Time Warner’s adjusted operating income grew 11.6 per cent to a record $1814 million during the quarter ended 31 March, 2015 (Q1-2015, current quarter) as compared to the $1626 million in Q1-2014. Time Warner revenue was up 4.8 per cent to $7127 million in Q1-2015 as compared to the $6803 million during the corresponding quarter of last year. The revenue increase was due to growth in all divisions says the company.

Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said, “We got off to a very strong start in 2015, with revenues up five per cent, and adjusted operating income growing 12 per cent to a quarterly record of $1.8 billion. This led to a 23 per cent increase in adjusted EPS and puts us on track to achieve our goals for the year. We accomplished a lot in the quarter, led by Turner, which had its best quarter ever, with audience growth across a number of its networks. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was a huge multiplatform success, with its highest average television viewership in over two decades helping make TBS the #1 ad-supported cable network in primetime among adults 18-49 in the quarter. And March Madness Live served more than 80 million live video streams and grew its usage by almost 20 per cent over last year’s tournament. Warner Bros. led the domestic box office for the quarter on the strength of American Sniper, which brought in well over $500 million globally. Warner Bros. also continued to lead the industry in television production, including the #1 comedy and unscripted series among adults 18-49 on television this season. HBO once again grew domestic subscribers in the quarter while continuing to gain acclaim for groundbreaking programming such as the recent documentaries Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief and The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The return of Game of Thrones reached a new premiere high, while also providing the backdrop for the highly-anticipated launch of HBO Now, our standalone streaming version of HBO – which is off to a great start. Reflecting our strong commitment to provide direct returns to shareholders, we returned more than $1.4 billion in dividends and share repurchases year-to-date.”

Segment Results

Turner

Turner reported 4.5 per cent growth in revenue to $2710 million in Q1-2015 from $2593 million in Q1-2014. Turner’s adjusted operating income has been mentioned above.

The company says that Turner benefited from growth of four per cent ($42 million) in advertising revenues, three per cent ($38 million) in subscription revenues and 25 per cent ($37 million) in content and other revenues.

Turner advertising revenues benefited from growth at Turner’s domestic businesses mainly due to the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tournament (NCAA Tournament) and growth at Turner’s news businesses. Subscription revenues grew due to higher domestic rates partially offset by lower domestic subscribers. Both international advertising and international subscription revenue growth were more than offset by the impact of foreign exchange rates. The increase in content and other revenues was due to higher subscription video-on-demand revenues.

Turner’s adjusted operating income increased 26 per cent primarily due to higher revenues and lower expenses, including lower marketing, programming and general and administrative costs, largely as a result of operational efficiency initiatives and timing. Programming costs declined three per cent due primarily to timing and lower syndicated programming expenses as a result of the abandonment of certain programming in 2014.

HBO

Home Box Office revenue in Q1-2015 was up 4.4 per cent to $1398 million as compared to the $1339 million in Q1-2014. Adjusted operating income fell 1.3 per cent to $458 million in Q1-2015 from $468 million in the corresponding year ago quarter.

According to the company, HBO revenues grew four per cent and reflect increases of four per cent ($49 million) in subscription revenues and five per cent ($10 million) in content and other revenues. Subscription revenues increased primarily due to higher domestic rates, partially offset by the transfer to Turner of the operation of HBO’s basic cable network in India. The increase in content and other revenues reflected higher home entertainment revenues and higher international licensing revenues.

HBO adjusted operating income declined one per cent ($6 million) to $458 million, as higher revenues were more than offset by higher programming, distribution and marketing costs. Programming costs grew nine per cent, primarily due to increased expenses for original programming. Distribution costs increased primarily due to higher participation expenses. The increase in marketing costs was primarily related to the launch of HBO Now.

Time Warner informs that through the first two weeks, the fifth season premiere of Game of Thrones totalled 18.1 million gross viewers, over one million more viewers than the prior season’s first episode after the same period of time. In April 2015, Home Box Office launched HBO Now, its stand-alone streaming service, in the US.

Warner Bros

Warner Bros revenue grew 4.3 per cent to $3199 million in the current year from $3066 million in Q1-2014. Adjusted operating income declined 13.2 per cent to $330 million in Q1-2015 from $380 million reported in the corresponding year ago quarter.

Warner Bros revenue increase, reflects higher television licensing revenues primarily due to the subscription video-on-demand sale of Friends and higher revenues from videogames. Revenues also benefited from growth in theatrical revenues led by the strong performance of American Sniper. The increase was partially offset by the effect of foreign currency exchange rates.

Adjusted Operating Income declined 13.2 per cent, as higher revenues were more than offset by higher film and advertising costs due to the mix of theatrical releases and videogame product.

Through 27 April, American Sniper grossed over $540 million at the worldwide box office. On 9 April, Warner Bros., its TT Games business and The Lego Group announced Lego Dimensions, a videogame experience that combines physical Lego brick building toys based on multiple franchises, including Warner Bros.’ DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings and The Lego Movie, with interactive console gameplay.

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