Despite being affected “significantly more” by COVID-19 than its competitors, Seven West media believes it is in a strong position going into 2021.
Speaking in today’s AGM, Seven managing director and CEO James Warburton revealed that despite the turbulent events of 2020, the company is now in a stronger position than it was in 2019.
“Fifteen months ago, we were in a tough spot. Our prime time television schedule was tired, stagnant and stale. Revenue in our core offerings was in decline. Cost reductions weren’t keeping pace with revenue, and we were stuck with uneconomic sporting contracts,” Warburton said.
He credited the company’s revival to its new strategy, which was built around content-led growth, transformation, and addressing capital structure.
Despite posting a full year statutory loss of $162 million, Seven managed to implement $170 million in annualised gross cost-saving, including a renegotiated AFL deal.
Seven’s content schedule was hit particularly hard by COVID-19, headlined by the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, an eight-week pause in the AFL and the loss of Australia’s Got Talent altogether.
The Olympics are scheduled to go ahead in July 2021.
“Think about what happens next year when we get back just the missing contents of 2020,” Warburton said.
Warburton also addressed the Cricket Australia rights negotiations, which have seen the network confirm its intention to walk away from the existing contract.
“Our ongoing process with Cricket Australia is much talked about. To be 100 per cent clear, we love the cricket and we have a huge amount of respect for the athletes,” he said.
“Ultimately, we pay for media rights to deliver quality content and strong audience numbers. We paid for and expect a first-class product and we will hold Cricket Australia accountable to provide it, even if it means at times, we’re outspoken.”
SWM did not provide an earnings guidance for FY21, citing market uncertainty.
Seven West Media’s share price lifted to a six-month high of $0.24 on Thursday.
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