Sports focus boosts EM.TV revenue


COLOGNE, Germany -- Production and licensing group EM.TV beat its own forecasts to post its best figures in years, turning a net profit of €9.9 million ($13.2 million) -- after making only €200,000 in profits a year earlier -- on sales up 21% to €253 million ($337.7 million).

About half of EM.TV's revenue growth last year can be attributed to the consolidation of two recent acquisitions: sports production company Creation Club and Austrian kids TV group Flying Bark Prods. But even without those effects, revenue at the Munich-based entertainment firm jumped 11% year-over-year.

Best known in the U.S. as the one-time owner of Jim Henson Prods., EM.TV has managed the turnaround by shifting focus away from kids' TV in favor of sports.

The company's sports division, made up of German sports channel DSF, online portal Sport1 and TV production company Plazamedia, posted revenue of €221.7 million ($295.9 million), a 24.7% jump from 2005. It represented the lion's share of the company's sales. Kids' TV, once EM.TV's core business, accounted for €31.4 million ($41.9 million) in sales last year, a figure almost unchanged from 2005.

The 2006 soccer World Cup provided EM.TV with a major revenue boost. EM.TV holds merchandising rights to the event, and the group's sports divisions benefited from soccer fever, with increased traffic on the Sport1 site, a viewer uptick on DSF and greater demand for Plazamedia's production services.

For 2007, EM.TV CEO Werner Klatten forecast further growth as EM.TV monetizes new opportunities in the digital distribution sphere, particularly VOD and mobile phone content.

By midday Friday, shares in EM.TV were up 2% at €4.47 ($5.97).