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Astro secures coveted football rights but endures tough first half as ad revenues slide

Pay TV operator Astro has reported a sharp decline in profits in the first half of the financial year after being buffeted by higher costs and reduced advertising spend.

The company reported an EBITDA in the six months to July 31 of RM750m, down from the RM1.01b in the same period last year.

Revenue slipped marginally to RM2.7b while advertising revenue fell 11% to RM312m.

Chief executive Henry Tan said the results were not wholly unexpected.

“As budgeted, we experienced increased content costs for the FIFA 2018 World Cup. In addition, financial results were effected by the reduced need to advertise during the tax holiday period from June 1 to August 31 and the depreciating Ringgit,” he said.

“Nevertheless,we continue to have stable revenues across TV and radio with diversification from digital platforms, eCommerce, licensing income and theatrical sales.”

He said the second half of the year should see improvements.

The results came as Astro said it secured exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Malaysia for another three seasons.

The existing deal expires at the end of the current season, which began last month, with the new agreement starting from 2019/20.

No commercial details were released.

Astro chief of sports, Lee Choong Khay, said it was “pleased” to continue its “longstanding partnership with Premier League”.

All 380 matches will be available live in HD on Astro TV and Astro GO, with Astro adding that it “hoped” to broadcast selected matches in 4K UHD.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said in a statement: “Football fans in Malaysia are known for their passionate following of the Premier League and our clubs.

“Astro does an excellent job making the competition available to them on a range of platforms and we are very pleased they will continue as our exclusive broadcast partner until the end of season 2021/22.”

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