PCCW predicts rapid growth for Now TV after Premier League win

Gaining rights to English Premier League will drive up subscribers and ad revenue, firm says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 5:02am

PCCW, which posted a 3 per cent rise in net profit for last year, expects to drive up both the number of its pay-television subscribers and its advertising revenue this year after securing exclusive local broadcast rights to the English Premier League for the next three seasons.

The company, which is controlled by the media and telecommunications mogul Richard Li Tzar-kai, reported yesterday a consolidated net profit for 2012 of HK$1.66 billion, up from HK$1.61 billion in 2011.

It attributed the gain to steady growth at its core business segments, media, information technology services and telecommunications, the last represented by the group's 63 per cent stake in HKT Trust and the operating firm HKT.

Revenue from the three core businesses increased 7 per cent to HK$24.13 billion, up from HK$22.51 billion the previous year. Core earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, a measure of operating profitability, rose 6 per cent to HK$7.68 billion from HK$7.25 billion the year before.

PCCW's board has recommended the payment of a final dividend of 13.55 HK cents per ordinary share for last year.

George Chan Ching-cheong, PCCW's group managing director, said the return of English Premier League football matches from August on Now TV "will serve as a catalyst" to increase pay-television subscribers, monthly average revenue per user and advertising income.

This would widen the gap between Now TV, the market leader, and the competition, Chan said. He said he expected Now TV's brand value to grow as its cross-platform strategy enabled more subscribers and advertisers to benefit from video access through personal computers, smartphones and tablets. This would translate to long-term profitability for the group, Chan said. He declined to give the cost of Now TV's English Premier League broadcast licence.

Now TV added 43,000 customers last year to swell its installed subscriber base to 1.18 million. Monthly average revenue per user rose to HK$173 from HK$169 in 2011.

The local broadcast rights for the English Premier League for the past three seasons were held by Cable TV, owned by i-Cable Communications.