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Astro delivers 7% earnings rise as operator looks to ‘scale operations regionally’

Astro logoMalaysian pay-TV operator Astro has reported a seven per cent rise in full year earnings as the company flagged its new online streaming venture Tribe as the start of a move to grow its business across the region.

Revenue in the 12 months to January 31 climbed five per cent to RM5.5b with EBITDA – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – rising to RM1.9b.

The solid performance came amid a “challenging year”, the firm said.

During the year Astro added 389,000 customers, the majority – 349,000 – to its free service Njoi with the remainder signing up for pay-TV.

Astro now has 3.55m pay-TV customers with 1.26m on Njoi. Combined, Astro reaches 67 per cent of Malaysian TV households, up from 66 per cent at the end the third quarter.

“We are encouraged by our strong operational performance in FY16, driven by our comprehensive product and service offerings for all customer segments,” chief executive Dato’ Rohana Rozhan said.

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“We offer not only the breadth and depth of content but also a clearly differentiated offering with live sports, fresh same day TV hits from the US, UK, Hong Kong, China, India and Korea as well as our very own vernacular signature IPs.”

Rozhan said the company sees “opportunity to scale operations regionally”, and highlighted the launch of over-the-top streaming service Tribe as a way it can grow.

Tribe launched at the end of last week, pledging a “mobile first” approach with “tailored content”.

The new service initially launched in Indonesia in a partnership with Malaysia-based telco Axiata but will expand across SoutheastAsia during the year in partnership with “local telecommunications and media companies in each market”.

“Tribe represents Astro’s aspiration to expand its customer reach and content scalability,” Rozhan said.

He added the current environment meant the business must be “razor sharp” in its focus.

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