Patchy picture for MTG

12.30 Europe/London, October 19, 2011 By Julian Clover

Modern Times Group’s pay and free-TV businesses reported a mixed quarter to say the least with Scandinavian and CEE markets displaying both growth and decline. Financially the company ended September with net sales up 4% year-on-year, but with pre-tax profits down from SEK 472 million (€51.7 million) to SEK 439 million.
In Scandinavia the premium subscriber base remained flat year on year, declining slightly quarter-on-quarter, in what is a traditionally quiet period for pay-TV. While Sweden continued to add subscriber numbers, churn within Denmark continued to hold back the Viasat tally, which ended the quarter on 640,000 premium satellite subscribers.
ARPU increased year on year to SEK 4,751 (4,472) in the quarter and was up from SEK 4,594 in the second quarter.
The Nordic pay-TV business reported a 17% year on year increase in operating profits in the third quarter and a 10% increase for the year to date.
“All four of our broadcasting business segments grew year on year and contributed to record Group sales for the third quarter, which is the seasonally lowest sales period of the year,” said Hans-Holger Albrecht, president and chief executive officer, MTG. “The Nordic pay-TV subscriber base was largely stable quarter on quarter with the revenue growth reflecting rising premium satellite ARPU levels, whilst the emerging market pay- TV channel and platform businesses reported another quarter of double digit year on year subscriber and sales growth.
In Central and East Europe, sales for MTG’s free-TV operations in the Baltics, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria were up 14% year on year at constant exchange rates in the third quarter and up 9% for the year to date. the Group?s Bulgarian operations declined by 3% year on year at constant exchange rates in the third quarter and were down 12% for the year to date. The decline reflected the continued overall decline in the TV advertising market and low prevailing advertising prices. Sales in Hungary were also down amid a year-on-year decline in the Hungarian advertising market.
Viasat?s Emerging Markets pay-TV operations added 88,000 net new subscribers year on year and 22,000 subscribers in the quarter following significant year on year and quarter on quarter subscriber intake in Ukraine, as well as growth in the Baltic and Russian subscriber bases.
The number of wholesale mini-pay subscriptions grew by 31% year on year and also increased quarter on quarter.