Media revenue for Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) fell by S$69.6 million (US$50.5 million) in its 2018 fiscal year, the company announced in its annual earnings statements. That amounts to a 9.6% drop from 2017 but was not as steep as the S$109 million drop it saw last year when media revenues slid 13%.
The Straits Times’ parent company continued to see a decline in print ad revenue, like many publishers, though again, the declines were not as steep as last year (see below). While SPH’s print circulation continued to erode in 2018, the rise in digital subscriptions with new all-digital plans more than made up the difference, leading to circulation growth overall.
In its presentation to investors, SPH made digitising its core media a key priority along with improving its digital analytics capabilities.
“SPH will continue investing in further digital initiatives, as it embraces data analytics, AI and other advanced automation technologies to enhance the readership experience,” the company stated in its release.
Implementing Google Analytics 360 Suite to more effectively track user behaviour across multiple channels and a partnership with Cxense to personalize customer experience through more targeted content and promotions are among SPH’s key initiatives going forward.
“Print continues to experience headwinds, but we are seeing encouraging results from our efforts to digitise the core media business,” said SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung. “We are making good progress in growing our property, digital portfolio and aged care businesses.”
Diversification from media has been another key strategy of SPH and as media revenues continue to shrink those latter businesses now make up about a third of the company’s operating income.
Overall, SPH net profit fell 19.7% in FY 2018 from last year when it reaped gains on a one-off joint venture divestment. Excluding one-offs, net profit gained 2.4%.