“Despite some of the negative economic commentary, the market has been relatively robust, with growing demand from our core advertisers. We believe the results we have delivered today are strong, despite tracking against the Tokyo Olympics in the prior year. Revenue is relatively flat year-on-year at $815 million; expenses have been controlled tightly despite the inflationary environment, up only one per cent; and our net debt continues to decline. We also commenced our capital management program during the half with our on-market buy back.
“Seven was the number one network across calendar 2022 and won 38 of the 52 weeks.
“That success was driven by our content-led growth strategy, the re-vitalisation of our entertainment content schedule in recent years; our market-leading sport content including the AFL; and the ongoing dominance of 7NEWS, Sunrise, Home and Away and our multi- channels. The latter, of course, became stronger with the addition of 7Bravo last month.
“In the first five weeks of the 2023 calendar year, we had our most competitive start to a year in total people since 2018 in terms of audience share and our best start in 25 to 54s since 2019.
“Our digital earnings have soared from $3 million in the first half of FY19 to $80 million in the most recent period and digital now accounts for approximately 40 per cent of group earnings. The BVOD market continues to grow strongly, up 18 per cent in CY22, even with the Olympics in CY21. We expect our share of this market to grow significantly from the new digital content and sports rights secured.
“In October 2022, we announced a multi-year content agreement with NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading entertainment and media companies. The agreement is bringing thousands of hours of additional content to the Seven Network and 7plus, creating significant new revenue opportunities. The agreement also enabled the launch of a new, female-skewed channel, 7Bravo, on free-to-air and 7plus on 15 January this year.
“7Bravo has made a positive start and the NBCU content accounted for three of the top 25 BVOD shows overall in the first few weeks of launch.
“West Australian Newspapers continues to execute its strategy of holding the line on print, turbocharging digital growth and reducing costs. The business delivered strong digital audience growth, up 15.9% year-on-year, and digital circulation revenue continued to grow, up 28%. EBITDA declined 11%, which is due to a significant increase in paper costs in the period.
“Seven West Ventures completed a new investment in the period in new disruptive property play, View Media Group, investing $12 million cash and $24 million in media advertising. The current portfolio value stands at $105 million.
“Operating costs have been managed tightly and $15-20 million savings have been identified to partly offset market conditions. Reported operating costs guidance range is between $1.22 billion and $1.23 billion, incorporating the new content deal with NBCUniversal.”