Openview, the free-to-air satellite platform owned by JSE-listed eMedia Holdings, has notched up nearly 3.2 million activations.
eMedia published its annual financial results for the year to 31 March 2023, which showed a “stable” performance despite intense load shedding and the increasingly fragile economy. They also showed the growing importance of Openview to the group.
Headline earnings per share came in slightly softer at 57.47c, from 63.06c in the 2022 financial year, while earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation – a measure of operating performance – were virtually unchanged at R667.2-million.
Revenue from continuing operations fell marginally to R3.1-billion, impacted by power cuts and a reduction in the fee paid by MultiChoice for the eNCA news channel, whose contract was recently renewed for a five-year period. Profit for the year fell to R377.7-million from R420.8-million. It will pay a dividend to shareholders of 20c/share, down from 25c a year ago.
“Despite difficult trading conditions in the form of 282 days of load shedding, which have had a direct impact on TV viewing, the group is satisfied with the financial performance,” eMedia said in notes accompanying its full-year results. “The available revenue for TV was impacted so much so that it has resulted in a reduction of almost R500-million in advertising revenue to the industry.”
That must raise concerns about the financial performance of other industry players, most notably the SABC.
eMedia said it “once again outperformed the market” in advertising revenue, which it attributed to its maintaining primetime audience market share – 34.5% in March 2023 from 34.1% in March 2022.
Load shedding has, however, resulted in a “change in view patterns”, which has impacted some shows on e.tv, with some local programming cancelled or modified.
“E.tv continues to face the impact of the uncertainty of the imminent analogue switch-off facing the country but the group is confident that the audience share will be carefully managed. The group is once again engaging with the department of communications [& digital technologies] in relation to the switch-off date, with e.tv stating that too many ordinary South Africans will remain without TV with a hard switch-off.”
Cost of sales – mainly the cost of content (e.tv), employee costs (eNCA) and decoder sales (Openview) – decreased from R1.74-billion to R1.63-billion. “A significant portion of the decrease can be attributed to the closing of the News and Sports channels on Openview as well as retrenchments due to efficiencies at eNCA.”
On Openview, eMedia said the unit accounted for 23.8% of the advertising revenue generated in the year, or R501.3-million, up from R468.7-million before.
Openview added 513 840 activations, taking the total activations to just shy of 3.2 million. eMedia did not say how many of those who have activated set-top boxes remain current viewers of the platform.
The group now plans to launch a new and “smarter” set-top box with storage and Wi-Fi support, allowing streaming content to be delivered into viewers’ homes.
eMedia Holdings’ only asset is a 67.7% stake in eMedia Investments, the company that owns e.tv, eNCA, Openview, eVOD and other media assets. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media