Astro earnings up in Q2 on cost discipline

Highly experienced: Euan has held senior leadership roles in Sky UK and Fox US.

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd has announced that Euan Daryl Smith will be its group chief executive officer designate with immediate effect, succeeding Henry Tan Poh Hock, 59, who retires on Jan 31, 2023.

Smith will assume the position of group CEO at the media and entertainment holding company from Feb 1, 2023 as part of Astro’s succession plan.

In a statement yesterday, Astro said Euan joined Astro as group chief operating officer and chief executive officer of Pay TV in 2020. He has held senior leadership roles in Sky UK and Fox US.

Tan will continue to be an adviser for Astro’s content pipeline post-retirement, given his know-how in content, the company added.

“An advocate of local content, Henry is best known for transforming local movies into box office sensations, and for building a vault of valuable content and original intellectual property, which is central to Astro’s core,” said Astro chairman Tunku Ali Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz.

“Team Astro has made great strides over the last two years, including the aggregation of the best global streaming services all in one place, the introduction of a sparkling new, personalised Astro via our hybrid Ultra 4K UHD and Ulti HD boxes, entry into the Internet service provider market with Astro Fibre, the launch of our new OTT product, sooka, and more,” Euan said.

The change of guard comes as Astro posted a 13% year-on-year (y-o-y) rise in earnings to RM98.5mil or earnings per share of 1.89 sen for the its second quarter ended 31 July, 2022 (2Q22) on improved cost discipline and despite revenue for the period falling 13% y-o-y to RM921mil.

Astro said inflationary pressures from geopolitical events and global supply chain disruption has led to an uneven recovery in consumer sentiment.

“The group remained cash generative and proactive in its capital management,” it said.

Astro declared a second interim dividend of one sen per share, payable on Oct 25, 2022.

Going forward, the group expects to sustain growth in earnings, backed by expanded offerings and features as well as higher subscriptions in the enterprise business segments, aided by the reopening of the economy.

“As part of our streaming aggregation strategy, we have added beIN SPORTS CONNECT, iQIYI and TVBAnywhere+ apps on the Ultra Box; and Disney+ Hotstar app on the Ulti Box to give our customers greater convenience through a single platform.

“BBC Player and Zee5 apps will soon join our seven existing streaming services, further strengthening Astro as the go-to entertainment destination for Malaysians.

“We have also introduced multi-user profile and thumbnail viewing as well as voice search on Astro GO, allowing for better personalised content recommendations,” said Tan.

At present, about 670,000 homes have Ultra and Ulti Boxes. Astro GO has 524,000 monthly active users with an average viewing time of over three hours.

“On Demand shows streamed grew 27% y-o-y. In 2QFY23, Astro’s broadband base increased by 40% y-o-y as more customers bundled broadband with content for convenience and value,” it said.

Astro also enjoyed increased advertising expenditure (adex) in the quarter. Its share of radio adex, TV adex and digital adex stood at 73%, 32%, and 3% respectively.

The group’s radio brands rank at the top across all languages, with 18 million weekly listeners, while its digital brands saw 11 million monthly unique visitors.

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