MTG reports mixed results

Modern Times Group (MTG) added just one thousand new premium subscribers in the Nordic markets last year but sales of value-added services including HD, DVR and multiroom rose more substantially.

Despite adding 16,000 new customers in the three months to the end of December, Viasat, MTG’s pay TV operator, ended the year with 1.058 million subs, up from 1.057 million at the end of 2010. Viasat ended December with 297,000 HD customers, 250,000 multiroom customers and 188,000 ViasatPlus DVR subscribers after adding 87,000, 15,000 and 30,000 customers respectively.

MTG’s Nordic pay TV business contributed SEK923 million (€105 million) of operating income, up 12% year-on-year.

Viasat’s emerging markets business saw full year operating profits decrease by 56% to just SEK49 million, due to investment costs associated with its wholesale mini-pay channel business. Viasat increased its DTH customer base to 532,000 from 430,000 a year earlier, while its mini-pay TV service added over 14 million subscriptions in the year, ending December with a total of 64 million.

Across its entire business, MTG reported a 3% increase in sales to SEK13.5 billion, but reported a net income loss of SEK1.3 billon, compared with a profit of SEK3.5 billion in 2010. This was primarily due to the write down of its Bulgarian broadcasting operations.

“Sales for our Scandinavian free-TV operations were up year on year as the advertising markets continued to grow. We have some ratings issues, which are being addressed, and our 2012 Spring schedules are now being launched. Our Nordic pay-TV subscriber base continues to grow and our Viaplay online service is developing according to plan,” said Hans-Holger Albrecht, president and CEO, MTG. “The emerging market free-TV operations have taken share and outperformed in advertising markets that are still lagging the recovery in western Europe, whilst our emerging market pay-TV operations are reporting continued strong subscriber intake. Our businesses have some of the highest margins in the European broadcasting industry despite the fact that we are continuing to invest in programming content, new technologies and subscriber acquisition.”

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