Chief executive Doug Murphy told analysts on a conference call that Corus Entertainment experienced a 10 per cent increase in television advertising that exceeded management expectations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Corus sees bump in TV advertising revenue; CEO says several factors in its favour

TORONTO — Corus Entertainment Inc. had a $66.4-million net profit attributable to shareholders in its latest quarter, as an increase in television advertising helped to boost revenue.

The owner of the Global television network, specialty TV channels, radio stations and content studios said the profit amounted to 31 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended May 31.

Chief executive Doug Murphy told analysts on a conference call that Corus experienced a 10-per-cent increase in television advertising that exceeded management expectations.

A “bunch of things” contributed to the TV ad growth, Murphy said in an interview following the call.

Audiences have stabilized overall and its big networks, including Global, have seen “modest” audience growth, he said.

Additionally, Corus has been successfully using audience data collected from set-top boxes to direct advertisers to specific TV programs, rather than to programs with the top overall audiences.

“Now we can say: ‘Don’t buy the Top 20 shows. Buy shows No. 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 14 and buy three times the weight on those shows.’ … And we also get better pricing. I can charge more for that.”

This type of “audience segment selling” now accounts for about 15 per cent of the Corus TV business, he said.

A third factor helping Corus has been a general swing back to television advertising after years of losses to digital media.

“I don’t know how much we’ll get, but there’s a re-weighting of TV … in our favour.”

A fourth factor, he said, is that there’s a new crop of advertisers that originated as direct-to-consumer sellers in the digital world — companies such as Amazon, Google, Trivago, Warby Parker and Skip The Dishes.

“These are all businesses that are getting big enough to spend on television.”

Corus is also finding new ways to distribute its TV programming, which historically has been delivered by the cable and phone companies over their landlines.

In a collaboration with Amazon, for instance, Corus has recently launched Stack TV — a collection of live and on-demand programming from Corus that’s delivered through the American technology company’s streaming platform.

“It’s simply a new entrant in the distribution business for Canada and we’re thrilled to be part of it.”

The Toronto-based company’s first quarter profit this year compared with a net loss attributable to shareholders of $935.9 million or $4.49 per diluted share in the same quarter last year when Corus took a $1.01 billion one-time charge.

On an adjusted basis, Corus said it earned $66.1 million or 31 cents per share for the quarter, down from an adjusted profit of $78.1 million or 37 cents per share a year ago.

Revenue in what was the company’s third quarter totalled $458.4 million, up from $441.4 million. Television revenue grew to $421.5 million, up from $403 million a year ago. Radio revenue fell to $36.9 million from $38.4 million.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 33 cents per share and revenue of $452.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Corus B shares closed Wednesday at $6.02, down 24 cents.

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