Corus posts higher Q2 revenues, despite challenging ad market

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Higher TV revenues helped Corus Entertainment to maintain second quarter earnings unveiled Thursday, despite a challenging advertising market.

Toronto-based Corus posted earnings of $33.5 million for the three months to Feb. 29, against a profit of $32.8 million in 2011.

Overall revenues rose 8% to $205.6 million, against a year-earlier $191 million.

TV revenues was up 10% to $163 million, helped by higher Beyblade merchandise revenues from Nelvana and increased Movie Central pay TV subscriber fees.

Movie Central and HBO Canada had 988,000 paid subscribers at the end of the second quarter.

The TV performance helped offset radio revenues down 1% to $42.3 million.

Elsewhere, specialty subscriber revenues were virtually unchanged from the prior year, advertising revenues grew 2%, and merchandising, distribution and other revenues increased 38% during the latest quarter.

Meanwhile, Corus-parent Shaw Communications saw its second quarter profit edge up to $178 million, against earnings of $172 million in 2011, on overall revenue up 3.5% to $1.23 billion.

The western Canadian cable giant saw core cable revenue and satellite TV revenues rise during the latest quarter, even as it continues to face down stiff broadcast competition from phone giant Telus Corp. and its Optik TV service.

“For the remainder of this year we plan to continue to execute on and invest in our strategic initiatives and focus on sustainable growth. We believe our digital network ppgrade and our Wi-Fi build continue to increase the value of our existing services and maintain our technology leadership,” Shaw Communications CEO Brad Shaw, underlining a get-back-to-basics strategy at the cable giant after it abandoned plans to launch a mobile phone service to compete against Telus.

And it was a contrasting picture at Montreal-based Cogeco Cable, which saw its second quarter profit jump to $83 million, against earnings of $32 million in 2011, due to a one-time gain from accounting provisions related to its discontinued Portuguese cable operations.

Excluding that unusual item, profit from continuing operations at Cogeco during the latest quarter sank 25% to $31 million, as overall revenues for the three months to February 29 rose 8.3% to $317.7 million.

Cogeco during the second lost 9,100 cable TV customers, against 788 lost during the same period of 2011.

Cogeco put the loss of cable TV customers in part down to “maturity, competitive offers and tightening of our credit controls and processes,” which translates to the cable operator looking to offer fewer expensive promotions to retain customers, as rival cable and phone giants routinely do.

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