Crave, specialty and sports drive uptick for Bell Media in Q4

Ad revenue was "relatively stable," with entertainment, sports and OOH offset soft conventional and radio performances.

Bell Media revenues climbed by 3.4% to $879 million in the fourth quarter, parent company BCE reported on Thursday. The increase meant Bell Media posted $3.22 billion in revenue for the full year, up 3.1% from $3.12 billion in fiscal 2018.

BCE attributed the increases to revenue derived from its OTT service Crave and contract renewals with TV distributors. At the end of Q4, Crave had 2.6 million subscribers, according to BCE, down slightly from 2.7 million in August. During a conference call, new BCE president and CEO Mirko Bibic noted that Crave’s overall subscriber numbers were up by 14% at the end of fiscal 2019, compared to 2018.

Adjusted EBITDA for Bell Media increased 16.5% to $205 million in Q4 due to strong revenue growth, said BCE, while operating costs remained stable at $674 million. Adjusted EBITDA for Bell Media grew 22.7% to $850 million for the full year.

In its English-language specialty portfolio, Bell Media’s total audience grew by 7% year-over-year. Meanwhile, TSN’s average audience grew by 9% year-over-year in Q4, with the Grey Cup, NFL, MLS soccer, the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and Toronto Raptors contributing to the ratings uptick.

On the advertising front, revenue was “essentially stable” for Bell Media in Q4, with the report noting that increases in entertainment, sports, OOH and news specialty growth were offset by softer year-over-year conventional TV and radio performance.

For BCE as a whole, yearly operating revenue climbed to around $24 billion, up 2.1% from $23.47 billion in fiscal 2018. Operating revenue for the quarter was $6.32 billion, up from $6.22 billion the prior year.

This story originally appears in Playback.