Commenting on MTG’s record results Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, President & Chief Executive Officer at MTG, said: “The highlight of the quarter was our coverage in Sweden of the Sochi Winter Olympics. This was the most watched winter Olympics and most successful for the Swedish team ever, and we showed every single minute for the first time ever. We achieved record free-TV audience shares of 60 per cent in Sweden during the games and the subscriber intake at Viaplay reached new all-time high levels.”
“We delivered 13 per cent constant FX sales growth as the investments that we made last year accelerated our development. This was driven by a mix of organic growth in almost all of our businesses and the acquisition of key new businesses such as Nice Entertainment. Advertising market growth levels remain volatile across our 11 free-TV markets, but we expect to increase our audience and market shares in almost all territories in 2014. We are however running against tough comparisons in the Czech Republic in particular, following the exceptionally high levels of growth in 2013. We continue to see healthy subscriber growth levels in both our Nordic and emerging market pay-TV businesses and reported higher year on year profits for both businesses.”
“Overall Group profitability levels reflected the investments that we have made in the Olympics coverage, new channels in Norway and Tanzania and our Group wide digital ventures, as well as the seasonality of our now much larger content production business.
In terms of outlook, we continue to expect a higher Nordic pay-TV operating margin in 2014 given the positive sales and profit momentum that we are seeing. At the same time, we are carefully monitoring the effects of the geopolitical situation in Ukraine but we remain committed to our investments and operations in the region given the substantial market opportunity and our well-established business positions. Based on current exchange rates, we would not expect an increase in pay-TV emerging markets profits in 2014 at this stage.”
“We have merged Viaplay and MTGx to create a leading digital entertainment powerhouse that can drive and benefit from the ever increasing levels of online video consumption. Our goal is clear – to be the leading digital entertainment house in each of our markets, which we will achieve through our organic development and acquisitions. I am also excited about the new pan-Scandinavian multi-platform content deal that we have signed with Sony Pictures, because it is the first of its kind, demonstrates the benefit of our integrated structure, and is another example of how we are shaping the future of entertainment with our partners and for our customers. We simply want to make fantastic content, channels and services available as broadly as possible, which is why we have also signed new long term deals with a wide range of third party operators.”
“We are balancing organic investments with cash returns to shareholders and maintaining the flexibility to acquire attractive businesses. We ended the quarter with SEK 6.3 billion of available liquid funds, a 0.4 times ratio of net debt to trailing twelve month EBITDA, and are proposing our highest ever cash dividend. So we are well-positioned to continue to invest in the growth of the business, in order to drive future earnings and returns.”