In reality, the Ten Network’s ratings and financial recovery in the six months to the end of February was enough to take it back two years, to the first half of the 2013-14 financial year. The company this morning reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA, the standard media profit measure) from its TV business of $10.1 million, up from the $7.5 million in the first half of 2014-15, but the same as for the first half of 2013-14. It’s the financial version of Back To the Future.
That was earned on a better, 8% rise in TV revenues in the half year to $334.2 million, from $309.8 million a year earlier and $315 million in the first half of 2013-14. Net profit was $13.4 million, which included $23.3 million of significant items (mostly the net gain of $24.8 million on the sale of the company’s Eye outdoor business in the United States — that was actually a non-cash item resulting from the reversal of a $20.4 million foreign currency translation reserve from equity into the income statement in line with accounting standards). But if you strip out the significant items for this year and last (the impairment of the TV licences of $251 million), and the interest, depreciation, tax and amortisation costs, you find Ten actually made a loss of $8.1 million, down from the loss of around $9.2 million a year earlier.
Ten recorded a better performance in summer due to Big Bash cricket and stronger programming pull for I’m A Celebrity, The Project, Spelling Bee and others. There’s confidence the improvement will continue. The network said in an ASX statement:
“Despite the soft conditions in the capital city free-to-air television advertising market so far in calendar 2016, Ten has maintained its strong revenue performance since 29 February. TEN’s gross advertising revenue is expected to increase by approximately 8% in the first two months of the second half of the 2016 financial year.”
So no sign of the weak ad conditions Nine saw in the March quarter, triggering its earnings and revenue downgrade earlier this month, or the slide experienced by Prime Media, the regional affiliate of Seven. Stay tuned.