Ad revenues decline, but subscribers up for Bell Media in Q1

Bell Media's operating revenues dipped slightly to $749 million in Q1 as overall growth in subscriber revenues offset declines in the ad market.

Bell Media’s Q1 revenues remained stable in Q1 2018 as slight declines in ad revenues were offset by growth in subscriber revenues.

Parent company BCE on Thursday reported that Bell Media’s operating revenues dipped slightly by 0.3% to $749 million, from $751 million a year ago, while its adjusted EBITDA fell by 3% to $130 million, down slightly from $134 million in the same period last year.

Ad revenues declined by 0.4% year-over-year, with BCE president and CEO George Cope attributing the dip to both a soft TV advertising market and a shift in ad spending to CBC for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

While a soft ad market continues to impact the bottom line for conventional and specialty TV, Bell Media saw growth elsewhere with increases in its overall subscriber revenues, which were up 0.4% in Q1 due to growth in subs on CraveTV and TV Everywhere GO, as well as contract renewals with TV distributors.

The dip in EBITDA was attributed to higher operating costs driven by higher costs for sports broadcast rights and CraveTV programming expansion. “We expect that content-cost pressures and ongoing TV advertising market challenges will continue to weigh on Bell Media’s EBITDA performance for the balance of the year,” noted Cope during an analyst call.

Elsewhere in the financial report, BCE noted that CTV had nine of the top 20 TV properties in Q1, TSN audiences grew 15% year-over-year as a result of programming such as the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, and Bell Media reached 65% of digital audiences in Q1 with 20 million unique monthly visitors.

Overall, BCE reported revenues of $5.59 billion, up 4.8% from $5.36 billion a year ago, driven in part by 101,707 broadband net customer additions in postpaid wireless subs.

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