HONG KONG — Pacific Century Cyberworks Wednesday turned in same again profits of $204 million for 2005, a year in which it transformed itself from telco with a fixed-line subscriber problem into a quadruple play communications conglom boasting a world leading broadband TV operation.
Group, headed by Richard Li Tzar-kai, last year saw customer base of its NOW Broadband TV business grow by 53% to 549,000 subscribers; acquisition of mobile phone operator Sunday Communications; addition of 157,000 broadband data subscribers; and reversal of its fixed line phone business shrinkage in the second half of the year. Company also managed to reduce net debt by $870 million.
Star of the show was the NOW netcasting operation. In 2005 it added 25 new channels through exclusive deals with HBO, CNN International, STAR, Discovery and Mei Ah Movies. Since the year end, NOW has launched its own round the clock Cantonese-language business channel and taken on a further 20 channels from Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting. With 110 channels available, the content upgrade helped lift proportion of paying subscribers from 53% to 71% and average revenue per subscriber to move ahead from $13.5 to $14.7 a month. PCCW managing director, Jack So Chak-kwong said that appeal of NOW is also driving subscription to its regular Netvigator broadband service.
NOW will this year begin high definition broadcasting and add new levels of interactivity. PCCW executive director Anthony Arena said target is for NOW to begin to deliver positive cash flow by the end of current year and to pass the 750,000 subscriber mark.