Ad rev dips for pay, specialty and VOD: CRTC

But subscriber revenues are up for those services, leading to a pre-tax rise in profits for that sector, according to the CRTC's 2009 financial results.

With its easily segmented niche programming and fee-for-carriage structure, specialty TV remains a profitable sector of the television industry, a new report from the CRTC reveals.

Released today, the 2009 financial results for specialty, pay, pay-per-view and VOD services by the regulator reveal that while national and local advertising dipped for the sector as a whole during recession-wracked 2009, subscriber revenues actually went up, perhaps as a result of more stay-at-home TV viewing by cash-strapped Canadians.

The overall decline in advertising revenues was much smaller on a national scale (2.4%) than at the local level (11.1%), with overall revenues tallying up at $982.2 million and $18.2 million, respectively. Cable television subscribers dwarfed national ad revenues at $1.4 billion while DTH satellite revenues came in at second place overall for revenue sources at $624.1 million.

Overall, pre-tax profits for the sector were up $80.5 million in 2009 to $728.7 million and total revenues were up 6% from $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion. And proving right the oft-used adage that it takes money to make money, expenses also rose, moving up from $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion.

Specialty led the sector, capturing the lion’s share of total revenue at $2.4 billion, while pay, PPV and VOD saw their revenues rise collectively to $695.6 million, a $99.2 million increase over 2008.

Spending on Canadian programming by this sector totalled $1.08 billion, about the same as last year, and broke down as such: $163.1 million for news, $226.8 million for other information programs, $302.6 million for sports, $194.7 million for drama, $47.5 million for musical and variety shows and $73.7 million for general-interest programming. Investment in foreign programming was up 36.7% over 2008.

Employment in this sector also dipped this year, employing 5,306 people this year, down 208 from 2008.

The data in the report was based on annual reports from all four services and represent the period between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2009.