Satellite operator SES turned in better than expected numbers for its 2014 trading year, with revenues up 4 per cent (at constant foreign exchange rates) at €1.91 billion, and profits up 6 per cent at €600 million. Transponder utilisation during Q4 was up 1.3 per cent at 81.1 per cent. Net profit for the year rose €35 million to €603.4 million.
CEO Karim Michel Sabbagh reported that HDTV channel growth was up 5.1 per cent, and that its all-important backlog was in a “fully protected” position at €7.3 billion (€7.5 billion last year). The bad news in the report was the continued decline of government and military revenues because of the continued reductions in spend. Revenues for its North American division fell back 13.5 per cent.
“The sale of eight transponders to Eutelsat, as part of the comprehensive agreement in January 2014, was a significant overall revenue contributor to the European growth of 9.1% (at constant FX).” he stated. “This was complemented by new DTH contracts, European services growth and the contribution of the EGNOS [government] hosted payloads. The International segment revenue grew by 8.3% at constant FX, benefiting from the continued success in commercialising new capacity brought into service in emerging markets. The North America region has continued to be negatively impacted by the US Government sequester, which was the principal factor in the revenue decrease of 13.5% at constant FX.”
SES said that the Winter Olympics, where SES provided capacity for NBC’s coverage, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup demonstrated the ability of SES’s global fleet to provide occasional use capacity for major global events. Ten SES satellites delivered 39,000 hours of FIFA World Cup 2014 coverage for Eurovision, the EBU’s distributor of premium sports content, and other broadcasters around the world. In addition, the BBC contracted incremental broadcast capacity for the period covering the 2014 Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Glastonbury music festival and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
“SES has continued to develop its position as a leading facilitator of the commercial introduction of Ultra HD by achieving several significant milestones during 2014. A live Ultra HD broadcast from 19.2 deg East demonstrated the feasibility of Ultra HD transmissions over satellite at IBC in September 2014. The broadcast, in the HEVC compression standard and with content protection, was displayed on a Samsung Ultra HD TV. Other developments included the broadcast of several major events in Ultra HD using SES satellites, such as Eurovision’s broadcast of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Rock band Linkin Park’s Berlin concert in November 2014 was the world’s first live concert to be broadcast in Ultra HD via satellite in the new HEVC compression standard.”