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Revenue dip for HT&E’s ARN in Q1, but Q2 tracking ahead of FY20

HT&E’s ARN is on track for revenue growth in Q2 of 2021, as revealed in a trading update at the HT&E Limited Annual General Meeting on Thursday (6 May).

Themes of the presentation included renewed confidence in the Australian advertising market, with CEO Ciaran Davis noting that HT&E’s key asset Australian Radio Network (ARN) performed ahead of the market last year and is showing signs of a further upturn.

Total revenues for ARN were down 2.5% in Q1 on the prior corresponding reporting period, but with revenues for April already up 53% year on year, HT&E is expecting an upturn in Q2.

Speaking to investors Davis pointed not only to ARN’s ongoing dominance as Australia’s top rating radio network, but also the strong performance of the network’s digital audio offering.

ARN’s radio revenue was down 21% [in 2020], while the overall market was down 25.2%. Additionally, digital audio revenues were up 122% on a like basis and we saw good momentum in podcasting and streaming revenues,” he said.

“Pleasingly, our operations have emerged from 2020 in better shape and we are encouraged that this momentum is continuing in 2021.

“We are dominating [radio] ratings… our dominance continues in podcasting. We are the No. 1 podcast publisher with 19 million downloads a month and we continue to onboard new content partners to consolidate our leading position, along with launching new products.”

Digital audio revenues continued to grow in Q1 of 2021, up 180%, something Davis said he expects to continue throughout Q2.

“The iHeartRadio platform is another point of difference for us in the radio market… We have invested in building our digital content creation, data capability and monetisation and we are starting to see the benefits of our exclusive partnership with global platform, iHeartRadio come through.”

The presentation also revealed that HT&E has appointed Macquarie Capital to help move towards liquidating its 25% state in software asset Soprano.

Chairman of the board, Hamish McLennan, reiterated his notes from the end of the calendar year, and also re-committed to reinstating dividends.

“HT&E navigated the period well and has maintained its strategic focus, strengthening our core Australian radio operations, investing in our digital audio growth strategy, and maximising shareholder value as we exited several non-core investments.

“We believe there will be continued consolidation in media markets and with its deep media experience, HT&E’s Board will be looking for further opportunities to maximise shareholder returns.”

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