The quarterly results of NDTV show that the broadcaster has outdone its previous year losses in the first six months of the current financial year alone. The annual report of NDTV puts the net loss after taxes, minority interest and share of profit/(loss) of associates at Rs 54.82 crore for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016.
The company’s quarterly results that came in recently for the current period ending September 30, 2016, place the net loss after taxes, minority interest and share of profit/(loss) of associates at Rs 55.58 crore. NDTV did not respond when asked to revalidate the numbers but Saurav Banerjee, Director Finance & Group CFO at NDTV, is unfazed by the high losses.
“In this business, there is seasonality,” Banerjee told exchange4media. He explained that the first two quarters are generally dry but the business eventually gathers momentum in the remaining two quarters.
“As a thumb rule, 40% of the revenues come in the first half and 60% in the latter,” he said. Throwing light on this phenomenon, he mentioned that seasonality is dependent on consumer spend which goes up during festivities. Hence, the period post-Diwali results in much more business than usual.
“If you make money in the second half, it will go down,” Banerjee reflected on the losses sustained earlier in the year. As a whole, NDTV’s business empire can be broadly divided into three parts i.e. broadcasting, digital content and e-commerce. Speaking of the broadcasting space, he said, “Broadcasting has been tough not just for us but for other people as well.”
The Harvard Business School alumnus conceded that ad revenues from broadcasting had witnessed a “little bit dry up” but maintained that the “costs have been contained”. Despite that, he claimed that NDTV had guarded its brand positioning by steering clear of tabloidization to generate higher TRPs and thus greater revenues.
As far as the digital business is concerned, Banerjee confidently pointed out that the operating profits had gone up resulting in profile growth of NDTV Convergence. “Other players are making losses whereas we have made profits and firmly held onto our leadership position,” he opined.
Talking of the e-commerce initiatives, the chartered accountant stated that NDTV Gadgets had been a “good story” and losses from e-commerce had “come down substantially”. Internally, NDTV has laid out targets for the next two quarters. The company intends to benefit out of cost rationalization.
“We are looking at our costs very keenly,” Banerjee revealed. The broadcaster expects to gain due to an imminent decrease in carriage fees as was indicated by TRAI. The road ahead does not appear to be an easy one for India’s first private news broadcaster.
When KVL Narayan Rao took over as Group CEO of NDTV last month, he told exchange4media that his focus will be on the “financial turnaround of the company”. However, the broadcaster has had other troubles to deal with.
An inter-ministerial committee setup by the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry had suggested banning NDTV India for a day because of its alleged objectionable coverage of the Pathankot terror attacks. NDTV’s 24*7 Hindi channel was accused of revealing “sensitive” information during its coverage of the anti-terror operations. The ban has been put on hold for now.