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Zee Entertainment posts 31% jump in profit as India ad revenue revives

Rising subscription income boosts billionaire Subhash Chandra's broadcaster

 Zee Entertainmet Enterprises managing director and chief executive Punit Goenka, pictured in Macau in 2012, believes that the advertising growth for the industry could be higher than the initial estimates for this financial year.   © Reuters

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Zee Entertainment Enterprises, India's largest listed-media company, reported a 31% jump in first-quarter profit, aided by higher subscription revenue and a revival in advertising spending.

Consolidated net income for the quarter ended in June was 3.26 billion rupees ($48 million), compared with 2.48 billion rupees a year earlier, Zee, backed by billionaire Subhash Chandra, said Tuesday. Analysts were expecting a profit of 3.56 billion rupees in the quarter, according to a Bloomberg poll.

Operating revenue jumped 15% to 17.72 billion rupees. Subscription revenue grew 8%, while advertising, which accounts for nearly two-third of the total sales, grew 19%.

"Our domestic advertising growth was driven by higher ad spends across categories and increase in our network viewership share," said Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive of Zee. "We believe that the advertising growth for the industry could be higher than the initial estimates for this financial year."

Advertisement revenue for Indian media companies is recovering from the impact of New Delhi's high-value currency ban in November 2016 that crimped consumer demand. The ban caused a slump in consumption, prompting many firms to cut back on their advertisements.

Goenka said the company has started discussions with its distribution partners to shift to the new tariff regime that came into effect in January. The regulation could be a catalyst for the growth of Zee's average revenue per user, he added.

Zee Group plans to boost its viewership to become one of the top global players by 2020. The broadcaster is targeting Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East where it is rolling out several new channels that will help the company boost its viewership from its current 1.3 billion.

Shares of Zee gained 1.8% in Mumbai trading ahead of the earnings announcement, while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex closed 0.5% higher.

--Dhanya Ann Thoppil

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