Malaysian media giant Astro has announced a 12% fall in earnings but ‘stable’ revenue earnings at RM5.5 billion for the financial year ending 31 January 2019.
Year-on-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 12% to RM1.6billion. Profit after tax and minority interests (PATAMI) plummeted 40% to RM463 million due, said the company, to the higher cost of sports content. In addition, one-off employee separation scheme costs, and unrealised forex losses on finance lease liabilities took their toll.
The year saw the Premier League kick off on Astro with the first live 4K UHD broadcast in Malaysia, as well as the World Cup 2018, Winter Olympics, Asian Games, and the Commonwealth Games. The World Cup 2018 saw 11.6 million unique viewers on Astro’s TV services and 1.7 million unique over-the-top (OTT) viewers, with 120k World Cup Passes sold.
Astro’s average revenue per user (ARPU) for its pay-TV subscribers has remained steady at RM99.9, while commerce revenue grew by 29% year-on-year to RM374 million, the company said.
“In a competitive media landscape, Astro continues to be cash generative, cost disciplined and proactive in its capital management. The Board is pleased to declare a fourth interim dividend of 1.50 sen per share,” said Tun Zaki Azmi, chairman, Astro.
Henry Tan, Astro CEO said: “Given the challenging operating environment, Astro is reviewing its business so that we remain efficient and agile to serve our customers better. Our focus will remain on serving our 5.7 million Malaysian homes and 23 million individuals via our pay-TV and NJOI platforms with differentiated and compelling content.
Astro and its digital platform NJOI are now in 5.7 million, or 77% of Malaysian households, garnering TV viewership share of 75%. Total video views are growing with the number of connected set-top-boxes increasing by 25% year-on-year to reach the one million mark, driving on demand downloads by 135% to 54 million videos in a year.
Astro said more customers are also watching content on their mobile devices, with registered Astro GO users growing by 32% to 2.2 million.
“By leveraging on our customer base and our ability to reach and engage on television, radio and digital platforms, revenue adjacencies such as commerce, Adex, content licensing and theatrical sales are showing promising growth trajectory,” added Tan.
During FY2020, Astro said it will focus on broadband bundles, seamless viewing across all screens, better customer service and deeper engagement with fans.