“We are looking to strengthen the performance of our Melbourne stations”: HT&E aims to overcome ARN revenue decline in 12-month earnings report
HT&E Limited (previously operating as APN News & Media) has released its financial results for the first full year of operation, with the group’s Melbourne radio arm attracting a lot of the attention.
While the parent company enjoyed a 30% increase in overall earnings, it was the ratings success seen in Sydney and Melbourne during 2017 that helped boost Australian Radio Network‘s revenue by 5.1% in the second half of the year.
But gains made in the second half of the year weren’t enough to counterbalance the 6% decline in ARN revenue reported in the first half of the year. ARN finished the calendar year with a 0.6% dip in revenue, down to $218.7m .
ARN’s profit figure was down slightly from last year to about $83 million – by comparison, SCA (with significantly more stations) recorded a metro radio profit (that is, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) last year of around $60 million.
Nova Entertainment as a private company doesn’t disclose their financial results like SCA and HT&E-owned ARN. But the profit is thought to be well in excess of $80 million according to industry experts, even though the Murdoch-owned company has significantly fewer radio stations than both SCA and ARN.
“HT&E made strong progress in 2017 as for the first time we operated our radio and outdoor businesses as wholly owned assets,” HT&E Chairman Peter Cosgrove stated.
“ARN’s second-half performance was particularly pleasing with an improvement in revenue and ratings giving the business the right platform for growth in 2018.”
CEO and managing director for HT&E Ciaran Davis added that while the last 12 months had its challenges, radio ended the year with strong momentum.
“Regaining and retaining the number one position was a key priority for ARN in 2017, which subsequently delivered the best ratings year in its history, and we finished 2017 as the leading national radio network in Australia.”
In a separate video address, Davis reiterated that the radio arm was looking to build on the success of the last six months and achieve big results in 2018.
“Our goal is to win in every market we operate in,” he said of ARN.
“Our strategy to achieve that was focused on recruiting and retaining talent where chemistry, content creation and commercialisation were already established strengths – rather than just hiring personalities of high profile. This has driven our success in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.”
“The introduction of Jase & PJ into Melbourne on the KIIS 101.1 Breakfast show was made to improve the underperformance of the station, and deliver a clear point of difference in a competitive market.”
Davis went on to explain the “critical” role GOLD 104.3 plays in ARN’s strength in Melbourne, and noted that the acquisition of awarded UK radio host Christian O’Connell presents an opportunity to further enhance the network’s strength, as well as “greater consistency in results”.
Speaking on the KIIS Network, Davis stated: “The changes to National Drive were made to secure talent for at least another three years. Will & Woody allow us to built greater depth and deliver more youthful energy across the network.”
“The investment is well placed to capitalise on the exit of a competitor Drive show, with better commercialisation opportunities in this important day part of a nationally syndicated show.”
The share market reacted favourably to the HT&E result improving 18 cents at noon today.