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Canal Plus subs up but EBITA falls

Additions from Africa and Vietnam gave a boost to Canal Plus Group’s overall subscriber base in the year to March, but group EBITA fell sharply.

The pay TV operator reported annual growth of 285,000 subscriptions in the 12 months to March 31, which it attributed in large part to good performances from Canal Plus Overseas territories, particularly Africa and Vietnam.

First quarter group revenue amounted to €1.286 billion, up 4.4% year-on-year, largely due to the addition of new free-to-air channels D8 and D17 in France and the merger between Cyfra Plus and n in Poland.

However, EBITA fell by 22.4% to €190 million, excluding €7 million in transition costs related to the integration of new businesses. The fall was attributed to the negative impact of changes in the broadcasting schedule for premium content, including Ligue 1 football rights.

Canal Plus said it had strengthened its sports offering in the first quarter with the renewal of exclusive English Premier League rights and the gaining of exclusive Formula 1 rights, and boosted its drama offering via a wide-ranging deal with HBO.

Speaking on a conference call after the results, Vivendi chief financial officer Philippe Capron said the group had not intention of selling its 80% stake to Lagardère. The latter’s chief executive, Arnaud Lagardère, who is engaged in a dispute with Vivendi over it’s the pay TV operator’s finances, recently said he was ready to acquire the operator if Vivendi lacked confidence in its future prospects.

Vivendi’s overall revenues were flat year-on-year at €7.051 billion, with EBITA falling 17.2% to €1.344 billion, dragged down by telecoms unit SFR, which has been hit by competition in the mobile sector.