Robust ad revenues
Sun TV is expected to record a double-digit advertising revenue growth in the March quarter. Revenue growth is also expected to come in at a healthy 12 per cent, the second highest growth rate (the December quarter was the best, with 20 per cent) in the past three years, say Anand Rathi's Yogesh Kirve and Rajesh Zawar. They say a high exposure to non-macro sensitive sectors such as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and regional companies, increasing competition among advertisers and a content deal with Arasu (the Tamil Nadu government cable operator) are the reasons.
About 90 per cent of its advertising revenues are expected to come from FMCG and local companies. It is Sun's exposure to regional markets that has helped it to outperform peers. Says Jatin Chawla of Credit Suisse Securities, "The increasing importance of regional advertising and Sun's dominance of regional markets mean that whilst the television advertising industry has experienced 12 per cent annual growth in the past five years, Sun has been able to grow 500 basis points higher than the industry."
The trend could continue, given rate increases by Sun TV. S L Narayanan, chief financial officer for the Sun Group, says, "Advertising revenues are expected to grow in the 12-15 per cent range (annually) over the next three years. We have had a good run in the last couple of quarters and if demand improves, we could look at a rate hike in the second half of the current financial year." Subscription gains
The ongoing digitisation process is likely to enhance Sun TV's subscription revenues, both due to the higher volumes and fees. Of the 38 cities to be covered in phase-2, Sun TV has a strong presence in five important ones - Hyderabad, Bangalore, Vishakhapatnam, Mysore and Coimbatore. About four million subscribers (for the sector) are expected to be added in these cities alone.
Higher digitisation is expected to boost subscription revenues (currently 33 per cent of total revenues) for the company. Says Chawla of Credit Suisse Securities, "We expect Sun's domestic subscription revenues to experience a 30 per cent annual growth for the next three years." The current subscriber base is 34 million (eight mn DTH and 24 mn cable subscribers).
Apart from increase in subscriber base, average fee per user per month (Arpu) for Sun (from cable-based customers) should also increase from the current Rs 5 to about Rs 25 after digitisation, estimate analysts. Subscription fees (Arpu) from DTH customers in comparison are Rs 39. While the ARPU difference is huge, about 70 per cent of subscription revenues come from DTH, though the cable subscriber base is four times the latter. With digitisation gaining pace, expect cable subscriber revenues (Arpu) to rise sharply.
Sun's Narayanan says overall subscription revenues are likely to grow at a faster rate in the coming quarters on the back of the ongoing digitisation. And, will account for a larger share of the overall revenues by March 2015, when the migration from analogue networks is likely to be completed. Motilal Oswal's Shobit Khare expects the digitisation upside to be at Rs 170 per share.