Astro affected by advertising and subscription decline

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s began its financial year of 2021 (FY21) with a major dent in earnings as a decline in advertising and subscription as well as higher net finance costs slashed net profit by over 58% year-on-year (y-o-y) in the first quarter ended April 1.

The pay-TV operator said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia that its net profit in the February-April 2020 period dropped to RM73.84mil compared with RM176.2mil in the same quarter a year earlier.

The earnings were also impacted by unrealised foreign exchange losses, despite lower operating expenses thanks to savings in content cost.

As a result of lower profitability, the earnings per share declined to 1.42 sen, down from 3.38 a year ago.

Meanwhile, revenue also fell by 14.7% y-o-y to RM1.05bil in the first quarter of FY21. In comparison, Astro recorded a revenue of RM1.23bil in the corresponding quarter of FY20.

Pay-TV average revenue per user moderated to RM99.1.

Breaking down by segments, the revenue of Astro’s television segment was lower by 15.7% y-o-y to RM920.4mil. This was mainly due to a decrease in subscription and advertising revenues.

Radio’s revenue also dropped by 37.5% y-o-y to RM37.2mil. The decrease in revenue was impacted by Covid-19 pandemic resulting in lower advertising spend as companies held back their advertising and promotional spend.

However, the home-shopping segment or Go Shop saw a 14.1% increase in top line to RM95.3mil, primarily due to higher viewership and the festive season during the quarter.

The group declared a first-interim dividend of one sen for the first quarter.

According to Astro group chief executive officer Henry Tan, the group was affected by lower advertising spends and restrictions in upselling and installations during Malaysia’s partial lockdown that began on March 18.

“With most commercial establishments not allowed to operate, we proactively introduced flexible subscription and payment arrangements.

“During this difficult time, we temporarily suspended disconnections and offered instalment payment plans for eligible customers to alleviate their financial burden.

“In addition, with the postponement of live sports events globally, Astro offered Sports Pack customers complimentary viewing of all channels as well as a one-off rebate of RM40 per subscriber pack. Our efforts during the movement control order have been duly recognised by heightened customer engagement and sentiment, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

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