MTG highlights Nice acquisition, channel launches in results

Jorgen Madsen LindemannEuropean broadcasting firm Modern Times Group reported its fifth consecutive quarter of revenue growth in Q4, after a “year of investment” in the areas of content, digital and geographic expansion.

Announcing its quarterly and full-year earnings, MTG said that its investments were “paying off in accelerated growth” and listed its buyout of Nice Entertainment Group and launch of channels for the first time in Turkey and Tanzania among its performance highlights for Q4.

“We delivered the fifth consecutive quarter of accelerating sales growth with 14% constant FX growth in Q4, and 8% growth for the full year. We achieved record sales growth levels for our emerging market free-TV and pay-TV operations in 2013 and now face tough comps in what continue to be soft advertising markets,” said MTG president and CEO Jørgen Madsen Lindemann (pictured).

“Our Scandinavian free-TV operations have returned to growth, and our Nordic pay-TV business has continued to benefit from strong overall subscriber growth and rising prices. We are investing further in 2014 and always looking for opportunities to accelerate the momentum in the business.”

Overall the firm reported net sales of SEK4.08 billion (US$636 million) in the quarter and SEK14.1 billion for the full year. However net income for the quarter and full year were both down, coming in at SEK261 million and SEK1.17 billion respectively.

In the last quarter MTG said the Swedish and Danish TV advertising markets were both stable, while the Norwegian TV ad market showed low levels of growth.

The firm benefitted from Viaplay subscriber growth and rising average revenue per premium satellite subscriber, though MTG said that operating costs “increased significantly” due to the ongoing investments in premium movie and sports content.

In free-TV emerging markets, sales for MTG’s combined Baltic operations were stable in the quarter, while its Czech operations reported 22% sales growth. MTG attributed the latter to its ongoing advertising sales cooperation with TV Barrandov, underlying sales growth and the launch of Prima ZOOM.

Bulgarian sales were up 37% in the quarter, though sales for its Hungarian operations were down 3%.

“We are totally focused on our customers and the creation of engaging and exciting entertainment experiences, which is why we have acquired even more premium sports and movie rights, further expanded our agreements with leading content producers and distributors, and launched so many more channels and services on so many different networks and platforms,” said Lindemann.

The earnings come in the same week that TBI reported that MTG is tipped to beat rivals to an agreement to buy into the fast-growing international channels group, Trace.