National news network has done very well. They have delivered ad sales growth in mid-teens, and within that our New18 network in Hindi has done very well, said Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18.
TV18 Broadcast today reported an 8.1 percent decline in consolidated net profit at Rs 15.87 crore for the quarter ending December mainly due to higher tax expenses. However, the total income during the quarter under review grew 8.88 percent to Rs 277.37 crore as against Rs 254.73 crore in the October-December quarter previous fiscal.
To discuss the numbers in detail, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18.
Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview.
Q: I know you want to speak about entertainment more, but I am going to start with the news segment. It is an overall revenue growth of 10 percent? Can you give us some idea about how advertising and subscription revenues grew for the news segment?
A: News segment, first of all I want to share with you that TV18 network and therefore with all our news channel combined, we have now become the number one news network in the country. So, this is fantastic news. Our national news network has done very well. They have delivered ad sales growth in mid-teens, and within that our New18 network in Hindi has done very well. It has gained leadership in prime time and it is steadily climbing up.
Q: That has also shown revenue growth and advertising growth?
A: Yes, it has shown revenue growth. CNBC TV18 continues to expand its leadership and therefore the difference between it and its competitor has only grown. We continue to focus on news which is doing well. We are investing in our regional news pieces. So, I think it is there that we made investments and regional news in this particular quarter on ad sales perspective has also been a little soft.
It is also maybe some comparators -- because in regional news it is also dependent on elections which happened. I think Uttar Pradesh (UP) elections happened in the comparator previous year and that is sitting in our comparators for some of the regional piece as well. So, I think regional news in terms of ad sales has been little bit more muted, national news has done very well. Overall we have done very well.
Q: What has been the revenue and EBITDA growth in the 50 percent that we have in Viacom?
A: I think it has been a good quarter, we have delivered again mid-teens in terms of our topline growth.
Q: Advertising growth?
A: Advertising growth is a little ahead, overall growth is mid-teens; advertising growth is marginally ahead of that. So, those are the numbers, so it is healthy growth.
In terms of EBITDA in our entertainment business, we have delivered a growth which is almost twice our growth in revenue. So, we have delivered very handsome growths in our EBITDA as well and we have continued to deliver PAT profitability which we have done for some time in terms of our entertainment business.
Q: In news business, even over there, if you only look at TV18 business news, general news there has been a fairly decent growth in EBITDA it is a 47 percent growth to Rs 53 crore is this maintainable?
A: I think with the leadership, I personally feel this is clearly maintainable. But what will need to done is with these profits which you generate on television with your leadership in some of these places you will need to continue to plough it to develop the full foot print for the country, regional which we were talking about and also investments in digital. Because we have got to balance our TV and digital pieces to be ready for tomorrow.
Q: There is a lot of curiosity and interest in Voot. How have downloads been, how was the subscriber interest and what do you see in the fourth quarter?
A: It has been a very good quarter for Voot and I think we continue to make many good progress. So, if you look at our gross downloads, the number is now 60 million and upwards. So, that is really good. More importantly our monthly active users tends to be 35 million and upwards. So, I think that is really good. With all of this we continue to maintain 40 minutes plus average time per user per day and this arguably is one of the highest.
With this it now places us as a very strong number two, premium content entertainment OTT player, with the big distance with everyone else after us. So, I think that is really good news. Big Boss particularly on Voot has done exceedingly well, so that is an area.
Q: If you can give us some idea of say the fourth quarter or FY18 from the entertainment bouquet what is the overall revenue growth and EBITDA growth you are expecting and what is the growth you are expecting from the Voot piece?
A: Voot in terms of absolute growth on viewership will continue. I would like to continue to see additions on both gross downloads and monthly active. Maintaining the very healthy average user time per day and even our revenue. We had one of the best months in December so that continues to climb, and here percentage growths don’t make a meaning they are multiples. So, I think it is growing very well.
Q: A final word on entertainment -- this is Rs 15 crore EBITDA in the third quarter, will this be the run rate or will you be able to improve it in Q4 at least?A: We should be able to improve it because the difference actually which happened between Q3 and Q4 is one of our big tent-pole film did not release in Q3, it is due for release now as you are aware and that should make a difference