Hot CTV ratings ring Canuck Bell

Earnings Brief

MONTREAL — Canuck telco giant BCE posted strong first quarter results Wednesday for satcaster Bell Expressvu plus its broadcast and newspaper division, Bell Globemedia.

Revenues at Bell Globemedia for the quarter ended March 31 increased 4.1% to C$356 million ($287 million), up from $276 million in the first quarter last year.

TV advertising grew by 5.7% compared to a year earlier thanks to hot ratings at the CTV Network. It had 18 of the top 20 series between September and March.

Bell Globemedia’s overall advertising revenue for the quarter grew 12% to $211 million, up from $201 million in the first quarter last year.

Bell Globemedia — which also owns a host of Canuck niche channels, including sports nets TSN and RDS — reported subscriber revenue up 4.1% to $62 million, compared to $60 million a year earlier.

Operating income for Bell Globemedia, which also owns the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, was $52 million, up 60% from $32 million the previous year. The company attributed the improvement to increased profitability at CTV and the Globe and Mail.

Bell Expressvu added 29,000 subs in the quarter. It now has 1.5 million, a 9% increase over a year earlier.

Revenue increased 7% to $178 million, up from $167 million a year earlier, despite the lack of National Hockey League games, a key part of the programming. The NHL continues its dispute that has nixed all games. The lost hockey revs were offset by a price increase in January.

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