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Subscriptions up, advertising down
by: May 10, 2010 Print

With its easily segmented audience, attractive-to-consumers niche programming and, of course, fee-for-carriage, specialty TV remains a profitable sector of the television industry, according to a new report from the CRTC.

Released in late April, the 2009 financial results for specialty, pay, pay-per-view and VOD services from the regulator reveal that while the sector's national and local advertising dipped during recession-wracked 2009, subscriber revenues actually went up, perhaps as a result of more stay-at-home TV viewing by cash-strapped Canadians.

The overall decline in advertising revenues was much smaller on a national scale (2.4%) than at the local level (11.1%), with overall revenues tallying up at $982.2 million and $18.2 million, respectively. Cable television subscribers dwarfed national ad revenues at $1.4 billion, while DTH satellite came in at second place overall for revenue sources at $624.1 million.

Overall, pre-tax profits for the sector were up $80.5 million in 2009 to $728.7 million and total revenues were up 6% to $3.1 billion. Proving the oft-used adage that it takes money to make money, expenses also rose, moving up from $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion.

Specialty led the sector, capturing the lion's share of total revenue at $2.4 billion, while pay, PPV and VOD saw their

revenues rise collectively to $695.6 million, a $99.2 million increase over 2008.

Spending on Canadian programming by this sector totaled $1.08 billion, about the same as last year, and broke down as:

• $163.1 million for news
• $226.8 million for other information programs
• $302.6 million for sports
• $194.7 million for drama
• $47.5 million for musical and variety shows
• $73.7 million for general-interest programming

Investment in foreign programming was up 36.7% over 2008. Employment in this sector also dipped last year, with 5,306 people employed in 2009, down 208 from 2008.

The report was based on annual reports from all four specialty sectors and represents the period between Sept. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31. 2009.

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