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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s leading integrated media group, Media Prima Bhd (MPB), is confident that results derived from strategic initiatives undertaken in 2017 would accelerate the group’s transformation into a leading digital-first content and commerce company.

In the financial year ended Dec 31 2017 (FY2017), MPB recorded an 89 per cent increase in total digital and commerce revenue to RM193 million.

The strong revenue growth was driven by increase in demand for digital advertising, rising popularity of digital content and growing e-commerce among consumers.

Among the new business initiatives that performed well in FY2017 was home shopping business CJ Wow Shop, which continued to gain traction with a customer base of 640,000 shoppers and total sales of RM130 million for the year.

The Group’s education portal FullAMark reached over 5,000 subscribers with a 52 per cent conversion rate from registered to paid subscribers, a significant increase from a 15 per cent conversion rate in 2016.

Media Prima Television Network’s tonton, Malaysia’s pioneer over-the-top (OTT) service, expanded its reach to Brunei and Singapore, with more plans to expand regionally.

Revenue generated from tonton increased 38 per cent last year, on the back of higher user subscription to the service. Tonton has over 7.6 million registered users to date, and recorded 84 per cent increase in hours watched and 104 per cent increase in average watch time.

FY2017 also saw Primeworks Studios (PWS) securing deals with the world’s leading OTT provider Netflix, which bought over 45 titles comprising of Chinese drama series, and Malay films and drama series.

The year under review saw MPB ranking third in Malaysia behind Google and Facebook in digital reach after the acquisition of Rev Asia Holdings Sdn Bhd, one of Southeast Asia’s leading digital media companies.

MPB reached a monthly digital audience reach of 11.1 million in November last year.

The rapid increase in digital reach is also attributed to the implementation of digital-first strategies across the Group, which benefitted The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd (NSTP) as it aims to capitalise on the growing demand for digital news content.

NSTP’s online news portals are Malaysia’s industry leaders according to ComScore Inc’s data as at December 2017, with Harian Metro in pole position with 4.7 million monthly unique visitors and BH in second place with 3.9 million. New Straits Times’ website reached 1.3 million monthly unique visitors last year.

“We are pleased with the encouraging outcome of our transformation efforts and we exceeded many of our FY2017 targets ahead of schedule. We will remain focused on honing our competitive advantage in the digital media landscape while keeping a close watch on our traditional media segments.

“Moving forward, we will continue to make strategic and prudent investments to enhance long-term shareholder value,” MPB Group chairman Tan Sri Ismee Ismail said in a statement yesterday.

Group managing director Datuk Kamal Khalid said MPB’s achievements to date underscore the progress of its transformation plan and fuels the group’s confidence in Media Prima’s future.

“Last year, we continued to dominate the digital space with our award-winning content.  We believe the Group has established much-needed foundations to grow further,” he added.

Nonetheless, the continued challenging operating environment faced by media companies in Malaysia has impacted the industry. The drop in total advertising expenditure for the year resulted in lower revenues for Media Prima’s television, print and radio platforms.

MPB’s revenue for the financial year declined by 7 per cent against the previous corresponding financial year, attributed to lower advertising and newspaper sales as consumers increasingly shift to digital media.

The Group recorded a net loss of RM669.7 million in 2017 against a net loss of RM69.8 million in the corresponding year. This was mainly due to impairment charges and resizing of the Group’s workforce in line with the focus to become a digital-first content and commerce company.

If these were excluded, the Group would post a lower loss after tax (LAT) of RM172.3 million.

“We accelerated our business transformation plan in 2017 with a view to become a media organisation better equipped to capitalise on opportunities and confront the challenges in the new era dominated by digital media.

“Our results show we have not managed to fully escape them, but we are encouraged by the outcomes of our efforts. We are taking the opportunity to make the necessary changes and deal with legacy assets and practices so that we can live up to our vision of being a leading digital-first content and commerce company.

“We will continue to find new ways to leverage the strengths of our traditional media brands to meet evolving consumer trends while capitalising on the demand for more digital products,” Kamal said.

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