Antena 3 profits plunge 28% in 3Q

Fragmentation of Spanish TV market hits earnings

MADRID — Just two years ago, Antena 3 TV was an analysts’ darling, ramping up ever-building profits. Now the Spanish broadcaster needs to go back to the drawing board.

The best that can be said about its third quarter results, announced Thursday, is that they were no worse than expected.

Antena 3 TV reported 3Q sales of Euros 147.4 million ($184.25 million), down 4% on the same period a year earlier. Gross operating profits (EBITDA) dropped a massive 28% to $40.3 million.

The figures underscore the gathering effects of fragmentation in Spain’s broadcast market. While rival Telecinco, which reported Tuesday, has been able to compensate for falling audiences by hiking ad prices, Antena 3’s viewing figures have fallen too far for it to be able to pull off the same feat.

Antena 3 TV audience share stood at 21.1%, January-March, but only 19.8%, July- September.

“Revenues are slowing down while costs are going up because of higher costs of content and the costs of DTT transmission,” said Glen Spencer Chapman at Ibersecurities.

The DeAPlaneta-controlled network has suffered mightily from losing neighbors’ comedy “Aqui no hay quien viva,” Spain’s highest rating skein, yanked after Telecinco bought into its production house.

Its biggest fiction bet for the fall, “Ellas y el sexo debil,” proved to be a complete turkey and was pulled after just three weeks. Its main flaw was a contradiction in demos: a supposedly feminist-skewed skit on men’s foibles whose major attraction was mature Spanish sex symbol Ana Obregon stripping down to her lingerie.

To sweeten investors, Antena 3 has just bought up the 10% stake in the broadcaster owned by Spanish bank BSCH, dolling out 2% in share dividends.

But it will need to grow audience share to keep investors’ permanently happy.

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