CTC revenue climbs 33%

Ad boom, strong ruble fuel growth

MOSCOW — Third-quarter revenue at Russian television holding CTC Media, whose flagship is youth-oriented entertainment channel CTC Network, rose 33% year on year, the company reported Monday.

Revenue at the Nasdaq-quoted company rose to $94.1 million in the period, against $70.9 million last year. The year to date figure reached $310.4 million, a 23% rise on the first nine months of last year, which came in at $253 million.

Third-quarter earnings more than doubled, rising to $17.4 million, up from $8.4 million last year.

CTC said its revenue growth reflects the continued expansion of the Russian television advertising market, increased advertising rates and appreciation of the ruble against the dollar.

Wider results don’t look quite so encouraging.

In recent years, CTC Network had been looking likely to move from its existing position as number four broadcaster in the territory, with regular ratings comfortably over the 10% mark, into the number three slot, replacing rival NTV.

This year, it’s looked more of a challenge for the station to hang onto its number four slot, with ratings largely down into single figures. Its audience share in the third quarter was 8.7%, against 10.1% the previous year.

Although CEO Alexander Rodnyansky noted that third quarter results reflected the quiet summer months, the channel’s fall season hasn’t been stellar either, with some shows pulled at an early stage, and little to match hits of seasons past that often seemed to make the station Russia’s must-watch channel.

Rodnyansky countered that the new season of weekday primetime skein “Cadets” was doing well, and that its locally made sitcom fare was holding up, with plenty stored away for the beginning of next year.

Audience share at the company’s second net, the housewife-targeted Domashny, was slightly up at 1.9%, a rise from 1.5% the previous year, hinting at an increasing segmentation of the market.

Rodnyansky also detailed plans announced earlier in the summer for expansion beyond Russia.

CTC Media has a majority stake in Kazakhstan web Channel 31, and plans to relaunch it in the New Year.

There’s also a new channel planned for Uzbekistan, set up from scratch with local producers, which should also bow early 2008.

Neither will play heavily on the CTC brand, instead asserting local identities and commission local production.

He said CTC was on the lookout for other opportunities in the former USSR market, although he added that stations in Ukraine, the second biggest territory in the region by population, looked overpriced.