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NDTV, Zee Telefilms post healthy Q1 profits, TV Today Network dips

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NDTV, Zee Telefilms post healthy Q1 profits, TV Today Network dips

Sabse tej or haqeekat jaisee? Not really, as it's all about the big fight. Now that NDTV, Zee Telefims and TV Today Network (Aaj Tak’s and Headlines Today’s parent) have all announced their quarterly results, NDTV has come out at the top of the profitability heap. TV Today Network, in contrast, has shown a dip in its Q1 profit. The revenue gains in this quarter to news channels have happened on the back of programming and advertising on account of elections and budget.

New Delhi Television (NDTV), which went public in April this year, has reported an impressive performance for the first quarter ended June 2004 with its consolidated income going up by a massive 437 per cent to touch Rs 40.53 crore against Rs 7.55 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. NDTV had said that its gross profit stood at Rs 12.57 crore in Q1 this year against a loss of Rs 18.30 crore in the corresponding quarter last fiscal. It reported a net profit after tax of Rs 7.63 crore for the quarter against a loss of Rs 20.55 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

While announcing its results earlier this month, the company had said: "The sharp improvement in NDTV's performance is a result of improved and rising viewership. NDTV 24x7 is now the clear leader among English news channels, and NDTV India is now a close No. 2 in the Hindi news channel space." Industry sources also credit NDTV's overall performance to the fact the both the channels have been marketed well and the ad-sales team has leveraged NDTV's editorial strength. The broadcaster has managed to grow its advertising base to 416 advertisers and 755 brands at last count.

Zee Telefilms Ltd. remains the heavyweight in terms of turnover. But it is well behind NDTV in percentage growth terms despite posting a healthy first-quarter performance. For the quarter ended June 30, 2004, Zee has announced consolidated revenues of Rs 320.7 crore, up 10.8 per cent from the same quarter in the previous fiscal. The operating profit has increased by 17.1 per cent to Rs 105.5 crore and the net profit went up by 17.6 per cent to Rs 73.3 crore.

However, one has to bear in mind that while NDTV and TV Today Network are purely news channels (two each), Zee Telefilms includes a whole bouquet of channels comprising news, entertainment and regional channels. Besides, Zee Telefims also has revenue earnings from film production and distribution, syndication and education. Zee Telefilms' advertising revenues - across all its channels -- increased by 8.7 per cent over the corresponding quarter last fiscal, from Rs 121.2 crore to Rs 131.8 crore. Stand-alone numbers for Zee News are not available but in the recent past Zee News has launched a slew of fresh programming initiatives and its Business News channel on the DTH platform.

Said Subhash Chandra, Chairman and Managing Director, Zee Telefilms, "Zee finished the first quarter with a good performance, highlighted by 17.6 per cent growth in net profit. Our results were lead by strong performance in both subscription and advertising. The advertising revenues grew well despite the India-Pakistan cricket, which lasted right through April, dragging some advertising spends into the sports genre. We have maintained momentum in our subscription revenues with continued double-digit growth, buoyed by 23 per cent growth in domestic pay revenues."

In contrast, TV Today Network has posted an unimpressive Q1 showing. The company has registered a total income of Rs 36.59 crore in the first quarter this fiscal against Rs 28.48 crore during the corresponding period last fiscal, a growth of 28.48 per cent. However, the operating profit of the company showed a small dip at Rs 13.41 crore from last year's Q1 figure of Rs 13.54 lakh. The net profit stood at Rs 6.16 crore, again a fall from last year's same quarter net profit of Rs 6.53 crore. The company has invested heavily in transmission and other infrastructure.

To be fair to TV Today Network, these numbers are primarily emanating from the success of the Hindi offering Aaj Tak, as Headlines Today is not contributing significantly to revenues as compared to NDTV getting revenues from both its channels. Headlines Today has started getting better and its editorial offering is recognized as good but has faced distribution and late-entry challenges which it seems to be addressing currently alongwith creating a consumer push and creating visibility.

G. Krishnan, CEO, TV Today Network, said, "We have continued to register a steady growth in spite of increased competition. This is a result of the faith that viewers, advertisers and the investors have bestowed upon us." The company has invested heavily in transmission and other infrastructure, he added.

On Friday, July 29, 2004, the NDTV scrip (Rs 4 face value) closed on BSE at Rs 88.15, while TV Today Network (Rs 5 face value) closed at Rs 114.95, and Zee Telefilms (Re 1 face value) closed at Rs 140.45.

At the end of the day, viewership gains have to be converted into revenue gains for profitability and it would be interesting to see how these channels fare in future. So stay glued to the news channels to see what the future holds for them. It's a 24-hour show!

With contribution from Ashish Singh


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