Pandemic drags down DishTV India’s FY’21 financials

The company has reduced its debt burden, even as it reports top line downturn and sub revenues


MUMBAI: India’s first DTH operator Dish TV India continues to slog it out to get out of the financial quagmire it has got itself into. That’s despite the fact that the company  has seen a loss of subscribers in its latest quarter ended 31 March 2021 and for the full year, its top line has dipped even as it continues to report losses. According to its audited Q4 FY 21 results released yesterday, Dish TV India  has reported consolidated subscription revenues of Rs  685.2 crore (Rs 776.6 crore in Q4 FY’20) and operating revenues of Rs  751.7 crore (Rs 869.06 crore). EBITDA for the quarter was Rs 426 crore (Rs 543.2 crore). Net loss was Rs 1415.3 crore as against a loss of Rs 1456.2 crore  in the same quarter last year.

Subscription revenues for the whole year have fallen from Rs 3192.8 crore in FY '20 to Rs 2987.4 crore in FY’21, even  as operating revenues saw a reduction to Rs 3249.4 crore as against Rs 3556.3 crore in FY20.  EBITDA for the full year fell to Rs 2017 crore as against Rs 2106 crore in FY’20. However, to its credit, it has reduced the red ink on its bottomline to Rs 1189.9 crore as against Rs 1654.8 crore in the previous financial year.

What helped it shore up its performance in the latest financial year is its hard focus on shaving expenditure which it has reduced by 15 per cent to Rs 1232.4 crore as against Rs 1450.4 crore in FY '20.  

Dish TV management said the company has been hit by the sporadic lockdowns due to the ongoing pandemic during the year and the last quarter. “The later part of the fourth quarter saw re-emergence of urban to rural migration, amongst migrant workers. The sporadic lockdowns have left many in the aspiring class with reduced disposable incomes while taking a toll on overall consumer confidence. Subscriber churn, thus remained on the higher side during the quarter and full year,” said Dish TV India group CEO Anil Dua in a press release.

Additionally, the company largely relied on internal cash flows for capital expenditure and for debt reduction. Hence, it kept a tight rein on capital expenditure which in turn limited new subscriber additions, and when compounded with high subscriber churn, it  led to a net reduction in its subscriber base.

Overall, Dish TV repaid Rs 213 crore of its debt in the quarter, reducing its loan  exposure to Rs 809.9 crore at end FY’21 as against  Rs 1817.5 crore at end FY20.  

Said Dish TV chairman & managing director Jawahar Goel: “The year gone by was difficult but has left us stronger with all the innovations and process improvements in place. However, with continuing uncertainties, we maintain a cautious stand. A strong balance sheet boosts confidence in such tough times and our focus on paying down debt and other liabilities is in that direction only.”

Dua said that investors need to take heart about the positive manner in which Dish TV has pivoted to take advantage of the opportunities that the pandemic has thrown up. “Effectively, the pandemic rushed the need to innovate. Be it artificial intelligence for resolving customer complaints, enabling work-from home for customer care agents and employees, developing set-top-boxes and other key accessories in India, moving trade partners to a fully digital recharge mode or upgrading our OTT platform, Watcho, we rose to the challenges thrown by the trying year while touching new highs in EBITDA margins.”

What according to the two of them shows promise is the growth in sign-ons to DishTV’s OTT service Watcho to 25 million by FY 21 year end as against just a million users in January 2020.  Said Dua: “At Dish TV India, it has always been our endeavor to meet the entertainment needs of all our subscribers all the time. Watcho is a step in that direction and delivers a seamless, streaming entertainment experience to viewers through future ready technology and diverse content.”

Dua is quite optimistic about the company’s fortunes pointing to the important role TV continues to play in viewers lives in India, and believes that a revival in discretionary spending, due to economic activity normalizing going forward, will improve business revenues. The company is going ahead with the procedures relating to raising funds through a rights issue totting up to Rs 1,000 crore.

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