Television

Network18 subscription revenue sees 43% YoY growth in Q2 FY20

Cost optimisations boosted Q2 entertainment EBITDA margins to 11.4%.

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MUMBAI: Network18 Media and Investment has posted 43 per cent YoY growth in subscription revenue in Q2 2020, continuing the 48 per cent growth YoY witnessed in Q1. The company’s digital revenues grew by 10 per cent YoY to Rs 46 crore. Sharp display advertising growth in News18.com (especially vernacular) boosted revenues even amidst a tepid environment.

TV18’s Q2 viewership share in news increased further to 10.9 per cent, up from 10.1 per cent in Q1 consolidating its leadership. As election tailwinds witnessed in Q1 tapered off, Q2 operating revenue for News declined 2 per cent YoY. Weakness in financial markets, lack of government ad-spending and limited international advertising compared with last year dragged growth.

The company also informed that the new tariff order (NTO) has created a transparent and non-discriminatory B2C regime and flux around the NTO has largely settled, though the cable segment continues to face some billing and reporting issues.

It said, “Our domestic yields have improved, led by the strength of our bouquet as demonstrated by consumer choice for our channels and packs. Improved distribution tie-ups give our channel portfolio unparalleled reach across TV & digital. The advertising environment continued to remain tepid during much of the past quarter. Weak macro-economic trends has dragged down consumer spends and depressed broader corporate appetite for above-the-line marketing activity.”

“However, certain categories of new-economy advertisers were bright spots, and tailwinds in regional and digital consumption continued to attract attention. Ad-spends began to rise led by the advent of the festive season late in the quarter, and big-ticket programmes and events planned around the same. We are hopeful that Government policies aimed at stimulating demand shall aid the recovery as we head into H2,” the company opined.

Macro-weakness and shift of channels from DD Freedish to pay ecosystem continues to drag ad-revenues of GECs for the entire industry. Pushing of some high-end content vs last year for better monetization (i.e. planned delay in the launch of Bigg Boss, shifting of IIFA awards to Q3, etc) makes the base not fully comparable.

The company’s strategy of sharp pullback in broadcast costs through optimisations raised EBITDA margins to 11.4 per cent vs 9.9 per cent in Q2FY19. “This is despite investments to the tune of Rs 13 crore in regional movie channels (Kannada and Q2FY20 Q2FY19 Growth H1FY20 H1FY19 Growth Gujarati Cinema) and paid-offerings (VOOT Kids & international). Excluding these, BAU margins improved to 12.9 per cent. BAU margins include the impact of initiatives launched more than a year ago but are still in gestation, including Voot and Colors Tamil.”

With regards to its digital platform, the company informed, “We have witnessed robust uptake for the subscription product MoneyControl Pro launched in Q1. The product underscores the impact of a strong brand and superior features at a class-leading price-point. Voot, the primary OTT VOD platform for the group, shall soon be launching its freemium version with offerings like digital exclusive and digital-first broadcast content as well as original content behind a pay-wall. Kids edutainment product Voot Kids was soft-launched in Q1 with a niche and highly differentiated offering, and shall be progressing to commercial operations behind a pay-wall in this fiscal.”

Network18 Chairman Adil Zainulbhai said, “Network18 successfully encapsulates news and entertainment content, across national and regional platforms, in both TV and digital mediums. We are fully geared for a digital world, with differentiated content available on integrated platforms on a pipe-agnostic basis. Impetus on seeding new business models and germinating fresh ideas are the hallmarks of our digital business, which is backed by a TV content backbone that we continue to invest in.”

CNBC TV18 maintained #1 rank in the English Business News genre with 54 per cent market share in Q2 FY20. During market hours (Weekdays, 8 AM to 4 PM) CNBC TV18 maintained an even higher share of 59 per cent. CNBC Awaaz continued its clear leadership in the Hindi Business News genre with 64.8 per cent market share.

News18 India garnered a 12.2 per cent market share in HSM. Its performance in mega-cities was even better, with a genre-share of 13.2 per cent, ranking #3. CNN News18 garnered 13.8 per cent market share & ranked #3 in Q2 FY20.

Regional News cluster has the highest reach (434 million viewers in Q2) and viewership in the country amongst regional news peers. News18 Rajasthan maintained its clear leadership with 46 per cent share. News18 Bihar and UP/Uttarakhand continued their #2 rank in their respective regions, while News18 MP/Chattisgarh rose to #2 position.

Flagship GEC Colors has a 15.1 per cent urban viewership share. Viewership share across all GECs in Urban+Rural was 12 per cent . The channel ranked #2 in weekend primetime. Season 13 of tentpole Bigg Boss was launched in late Sep-19, boosting the channel’s rank to #2 in pay-GECs in Week 40.

Colors Cineplex launched on 1 Mar 2019 after shifting FTA channel Rishtey Cineplex from Freedish, as a full-fledged premium pay Hindi movie channel. The channel is under ramp-up and viewership share has risen to 4.1 per cent .

Nick continues to reign as #1 in the Kids genre, with an increased 20 per cent share of genre viewership. Sonic also rose to #2, with an 11.1 per cent share. Between Nick, Sonic and Nick Jr, our Kids portfolio commanded a 34.5 per cent market- share, clearly much ahead of peers.

In English entertainment genre, Viacom18 channels continue to occupy the top positions, with their combined viewership shares at 48.5 per cent. Comedy Central and VH1 rank #2 (22 per cent) and #1 (22 per cent) respectively; while Colors Infinity has a ~4 per cent share.

Voot, Viacom18’s Over The Top (OTT) exclusive digital video destination has seen gross downloads rise to ~170 million. It has an average daily viewership of 45+ minutes that is the highest amongst broadcaster-OTT apps.

The quarter also witnessed the launched of ‘Colors Telugu’ on Voot as a digital-first channel and released original show ‘Feet Up with the Stars Telugu’. Bigg Boss S13 garnered 78 million views in just 10 days on Voot.  Voot Kids, a multi-faceted watch-play-and-learn destination aimed at Kids, was soft-launched in June’19.

Company’s Kannada GEC portfolio was #2 in the region with 32 per cent viewership share (Colors Kannada 23 per cent + Colors Super 9 per cent ). Colors Kannada Cinema was launched in late-Q2 and is #2 with 22 per cent share in Kannada movie genre.

Colors Marathi maintained its strong #2 rank in the genre, with viewership share at 22 per cent. Bigg Boss Marathi S2 has garnered around 45 per cent higher viewership as compared to the previous season. Colors Tamil is ramping up programming during the year, as it steadily overcomes distribution challenges which have kept its viewership share <5 per cent.

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