International growth cements solid quarter for Canal+

International subscriptions helped boost Canal+’s revenues in the first quarter, with the pay TV outfit posting a 1% increase in sales in constant currency terms to take its top line to €1.372 billion.

While Canal+’s revenue lift was modest in constant currency, it helped parent company Vivendi turn in a solid quarter despite the early negative impacts of the coronavirus crisis, which weighed heavily on advertising unit Havas, publishing arm Editis and events unit Vivendi Village.

Canal+’s solid quarter included an upturn in individual subscriptions in France, where it added 62,000 year-on-year.

Canal+’s subscriber base, including the acquisition of pan-European pay TV operator M7 Group, totalled 20.1 million at the end of March, up from 16.7 million a year earlier on a proforma basis. The total included 8.4 million in metropolitan France, of which 7.8 million were individual subscribers.

International subscribers were up by 3.5 million year-on-year.

The revenue increase of 9.6% amounted to a relatively modest 1% in constant currency terms, and revenues from TV operations in France were down by 0.7% in constant currency. However, revenues from international operations were up by 35.3%, or 8.7% in constant currency.

Vivendi said that Canal+’s revenues were being negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis, but that it had taken action to ensure the continuity of operations as well as maintaining control on costs and investments.

The quarterly figures will not reflect the full impact of the crisis on the pay TV outfit’s performance, which have seen the staple of subscription services – football – disappear from the schedule. Canal+ engaged in a controversial move to offer its services free of charge, leading to vociferous complaints from free-to-air broadcasters, and has found itself ina stand-off with the French football leagueover rights payments since the crisis deepened.

Vivendi overall posted revenues of €3.87 billion, up 4.4% in constant currency tanks in large part once again to the performance of Universal Music Group. The latter saw revenues by 12.7% in constant currency terms to €1.769 billion.

Vivendi said that its financial position is solid, particularly after its €3 billion sale of a 10% stake in Universal Music Group to Tencent at the end of March.

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