NZME encouraged, despite 73% decline in profit

Photo: RNZ
Photo: RNZ
A focus on improving its digital revenue, including its newly launched premium NZ Herald subscription service, has yet to herald profits for New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME).

Net profit for NZME, which owns a stable of 80 media brands, including The New Zealand Herald, Newstalk ZB, The Hits, ZM and e-commerce platform GrabOne, declined 73% to less than $1 million, on flagging advertising revenue. Overall revenues slid 4% to $181.1 million compared to last year.

Costs related to restructuring and redundancies shaved $3.2 million off the bottom line and an additional loss of $1.1 million was credited to the disposal of the group's investment in online marketplace Ratebroker Limited and holiday pay adjustments.

No dividend was payable for the period, in line with the group's focus on streamlining debt.

The six months marked the launch of its premium digital subscription service, under its NZ Herald premium brand, which attracted more than 40,000 paid digital subscribers.

CEO Michael Boggs said the launch of the paid service had ''exceeded expectations'' both in terms of subscriptions and revenue.

He said NZME's multi-channel real estate platform OneRoof was also going from strength to strength, its revenue growing to $1.3 million on a 33% growth in unique browsers to almost 300,000 per month.

NZME CFO David Mackrell attributed the decline to ongoing pressure on print and digital advertising, along with a decline in print circulation revenues, which fell 7% to $96.6 million.

Total radio revenue remained static at $53.5 million on a market share of 37.7%.

Mr Mackrell said the ongoing focus on costs had delivered a reduction in underlying operating costs during the period of $4.8 million, while net debt fell by $8.1 million over the six months.

Mr Boggs said there were some encouraging signs in advertising spending. Third-quarter bookings were up 6% year on year.

''The encouraging performance of our new and emerging platforms like OneRoof and NZ Herald Premium, along with the growth in our radio and print audiences, means NZME is increasingly well placed to connect advertisers with engaged audiences.''

NZME shares were down 3.85% to 50c yesterday.

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