We are the Igniter
2016 was an important and successful year for MTG. We accelerated our sales growth compared to previous years and ended the year with the highest growth quarter in over 5 years. We also grew our profits while making significant investments and selling non-core businesses at the same time. All of which has enabled us to propose a higher dividend for 2016.
Leading the way
Consumer behaviour and technological advances are changing our industry more than ever, and we are continuing to lead this change by transforming MTG’s products and operations even faster. So 2016 was a year in which we took a number of very important steps to shape our business for the future. We have rolled out new channels and services including the Viafree streaming service; further expanded our Viaplay on demand service; commissioned a pipeline of our own new original TV series formats; secured the best sports rights for years to come; signed broad based multi-year deals with content providers like Fox and Disney; added new esports tournaments, leagues and studios around the world; developed existing and new online video stars; and ensured that all of these fantastic entertainment experiences are available as widely as possible under new long term agreements with network operators and online platforms around the world. Whether it be TV channels or digital video networks, the key success factor remains the same – great story telling, and our award winning MTG Studios, Zoomin.TV and Splay told even more fantastic stories in 2016.
Aligning the portfolio
The strategic transformation we are going through is all about focus – making sure that our people, our money and our decisions are focused on those areas that can deliver the best returns moving forward. This has led us to exit some products, businesses and markets, in order to be able to re-invest in other ones. These decisions have not been easy as we have invested over many years, but they are necessary for the future of the group. We therefore completed our exit from Russia and Ukraine in 2016, with a 5 times cash return on our investment. We have also now completed the sale of our 50% stake in Prima in the Czech Republic for a 2 times return on our investment, and are in the final stages of completing the sale of our free-TV operations in Africa. Finally, we have recently also announced the sale of our Baltic operations. We are putting the proceeds to work by investing in new products in the Nordic markets; adding new companies and products to our esports offering; developing original content IP; and moving into a third global vertical – online gaming. Online gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and mobile gaming is the fastest growing segment, which is why we have bought 21% of Hamburg based games developer InnoGames and have the option to increase our ownership further over time.
Driving growth & profitability
Sales were up 7% on a reported basis and 5% on an organic basis to record new levels, and our group wide digital sales almost doubled. All but one of our free-TV operations reported higher sales, and our audience shares were up in most markets. Linear TV viewing again declined in Scandinavia in 2016 as consumers watched more video online, on mobile and on demand, but was stable in the international markets. TV advertising prices were up in all markets as demand remained high for large scale, high quality and easily measured TV audiences. Our share of the exploding online viewing also increased in all markets. Our Nordic pay-TV subscriber base grew to record new levels in 2016, and revenues were also boosted by higher prices for both our Viasat and Viaplay products as we added more premium content and functionality to both products, and enhanced the overall user experience. This was typified by our exclusive coverage of the Rio Olympics in Sweden, during which we showed every minute of the games on our various platforms and also introduced virtual reality coverage for the first time.
It was in esports that we saw the highest levels of growth. Our ESL and DreamHack brands are 2 of the largest esports organisers in the world and the ecosystem is forecast to attract almost 60 million participants, nearly 200 million fans, a worldwide audience of double that, and almost USD 700 million of revenues in 2017. The venue and online audiences for the more than 400 major events in 2016 broke new records, and we have led the way by acquiring local operators in the UK and Australia; adding new esports events in Brazil and the Philippines; and building out our studios in France and the US. The interest amongst advertisers, sponsors and distributors is growing all the time, and we have just signed deals with both Twitter and Facebook to make content from our tournaments and leagues available through their feeds. Esports has the potential to become one of the world’s leading sports, which is why we are investing in these businesses and also reviewing partnership opportunities to expand even faster. The increased profitability in our traditional businesses, due to organic sales growth and the transformation savings, has more than offset these investments and the higher content costs due to the appreciation of the US dollar. This resulted in a stable operating margin and 6% growth in operating income for the year.
Delivering shareholder value
Our approach continues to combine reinvestment in growth with a shareholder friendly approach to dividends. We ended the year with higher profits and stable net debt that was equivalent to 1.4 times EBITDA, after having paid out 86% of our recurring net income in dividends last year. The Board is therefore proposing to increase the dividend by 4% to SEK 12,00, which would represent a pay-out ratio of 93%. We are otherwise reinvesting the proceeds from our disposals into the future growth of the business.
Is at the heart of all that we do. Our MTG values of Bold, Smart, Fun and Engaging are all about encouraging positive behaviour, embracing diversity and enabling talent, so that we can tell stories that more and more people love and want to share. Our values are integrated with our strategy, our culture and our responsibility. We have a clear strategy to invest in digital video entertainment leadership in our markets and you will see in the following pages how we seek to do this in a responsible and sustainable way.
We also want to tell our own story in the most clear and simple way possible, which is why we have simplified our financial reporting over the past year, relaunched mtg.com, boosted our public profile and shared even more stories through social channels. All that has been achieved and will be achieved is due to the passion and dedication of our worldwide team of 3,800 – so I want to thank you and our owners, customers and partners for making this possible.
Jørgen Madsen Lindemann
President & Chief Executive Officer
Success is based on strong culture, clear strategy and excellent performance.
Our ambition is to be the leading provider of digital entertainment experiences in each of our markets. We are shaping the future of entertainment by connecting consumers with the content that they love through multiple screens in the home and on the move, online and offline, scheduled and on demand. We want to reach, engage and entertain more and more people every day; to make as much positive impact as possible in the communities in which we operate; and to create long term sustainable value for all of our stakeholders. We are managing the transformation of a traditional national broadcaster into a global digital entertainer. We want to be the employer, provider and partner of choice in the entertainment industry wherever and whenever we act.
Our purpose is to Shape the Future of Entertainment, by creating an ever increasing range of engaging and exciting entertainment experiences that enrich and enhance the lives of our customers and consumers. Our products are relevant, simple to use and offer value for money. We generate growing and sustainable positive impact in our communities and value for our stakeholders. We constantly reach for more in everything that we do. We strive to innovate, inspire and ignite – to make a difference each and every single day. We are game changers – constantly redefining how entertainment is consumed and experienced! People and their stories are at the centre of everything that we do and great storytelling is the purpose all of the products that we develop.
We are the Igniter – exploring opportunities, enhancing lives, shaping the future.
We have four values and related behaviours that we aspire to:
We are obsessed with content and empower talent
We think big, move fast, and we are always innovating
We fight boredom & do what we love
We put consumer experience first & stand together
Our objective is to create value by generating long term revenue and profit growth and shareholder returns. We are transforming MTG from a traditional national broadcaster into a global digital entertainer in order to achieve this. We want to be a global leader in specific entertainment verticals, and to focus on areas where we have the opportunity to win. We have proactively adapted our operating model and product portfolio to take advantage of changes in consumer behavior, and invested into both our existing and new businesses. We are driving performance in our scale traditional business by innovating, optimising and consolidating; while driving growth in the digital business by expanding, diversifying and partnering in our target verticals. In order to accelerate the transformation, we have undergone a cost transformation and are realigning our portfolio so that we can allocate capital to those areas that o er the greatest value creation potential for the future.
A constant challenger & innovator.
Born as Scandinavia’s first commercial TV channel in 1987, 30 years later our brands now comprise leading linear and streamed TV, radio and content production businesses, as well as next generation entertainment experiences in esports, digital video networks and online gaming around the world.
Read more about Our story.
At MTG, we believe that corporate responsibility (CR) creates unique value for all our stakeholder communities – our employees, our customers, our partners, our owners and society at large.
Vision & Strategy
Corporate Responsibility is at the centre of everything that we do – integrated with our strategy, our values and our culture.
It is also why MTG’s CR activities are reviewed and governed right from the top by MTG’s Board-appointed CR Advisory Group. This Group is led by MTG Board member Simon Duffy and includes MTG Board member Joakim Andersson. This approach ensures that our CR strategy is fully integrated in our business decision-making.
We reinforced our CR strategy with four focus areas in 2016 – environmental care, social impact, business ethics and media responsibility. In other words, we aim to offer responsible entertainment while acting ethically, committing to our employees and managing our limited impact on the environment.
Everything we do is guided by the values and principles set out by MTG’s Code of conduct and policy framework. At the same time, we are committed to the UN Global Compact, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
Achievements & Progress
MTG’s 2016 CR report shows that our CR work took a big step forward in 2016.
- We committed to promoting and ensuring diversity and equality for all MTG employees, and to a 50/50 gender split in our management teams by 2020. Companies that embrace equal opportunity and diversity are more successful companies, so we will be implementing our roadmap to reach this goal in 2017 and beyond.
- For the fifth year in a row, MTG was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices, which highlight businesses that are well positioned to deliver long-term sustainable stakeholder value. We were also included in the RobecoSAM Sustainability Yearbook for the fourth time.
- We continued to enhance our child protection processes for both our linear and streaming services, and offered a successful combination of education and entertainment with ‘The Great Escape’, our first kids’ original series on Viaplay.
- All management teams from MTG’s newly acquired digital ventures received training in our Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption policies and guidelines, with further learning planned for 2017.
- Our ESL and DreamHack operations helped found ESIC, an esports industry-wide body to prevent cheating, corruption, doping and match fixing.
We are mapping our energy consumption in 2017, starting with our largest markets, and with the aim of reducing it 20% by 2020. We are further enhancing our data protection procedures and implementing a comprehensive compliance plan to proactively meet the demands of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
We are focusing on how we can use data to innovate and enable efficiencies while delivering even more amazing digital entertainment experiences. And of course, we will heighten our focus on creating high-quality, inclusive and accessible content that uses the power of storytelling to engage diverse audiences and raise important questions.
And we’re ready to aim even higher. MTG is already committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. We will set our CR goals for 2020 during 2017 and connect them to specific SDGs.
Consumer behaviour, media formats and storytelling techniques keep evolving, and so will we. As we transform into the leading digital entertainer in each of our markets and reach more people than ever before, we have an opportunity to make a truly global impact.
If you want to learn more about our Corporate Responsibility work then download a PDF of the full MTG CR report 2016.
1.4 x Gearing
If you’re into numbers then download a PDF of the full Annual Report 2016 Annual Report
MTG’s operations comprise four segments that are transforming by driving and shaping the fast moving changes in consumer behaviour. Two of the four segments comprise geographically defined entertainment businesses, while the other two operate globally.
The segment comprise online and offline free-TV, radio and pay-TV operations, including a total of 50 TV channels and local and international radio stations; the Viasat satellite pay-TV platform; and the Viaplay, Viafree and ILikeRadio streaming services. These products are made available as broadly as possible on fixed and mobile networks. MTG operates differing product ranges in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
The segment comprise online and offline operations in the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and the Trace TV international thematic pay-TV business. The Baltic operations include free-TV and pay-TV channels, radio stations, the Viasat satellite platform and Viaplay streaming service. Prima in the Czech Republic and Nova in Bulgaria operate TV channels, digital brands, and other media businesses.
MTG Studios comprise a number of leading creators, producers and distributors of television shows, commercials, events, movies and branded content. These included the nice entertainment group of 28 content production companies in 16 countries; leading international format distributor DRG; Scandinavian TV format developer Strix TV; and international production studio Paprika.
MTGx is the group’s global digital business and delivers next generation entertainment experiences. MTGx comprised the world’s largest esports organiser through Turtle Entertainment and DreamHack; one of the world’s leading international digital video networks through Zoomin.TV and Splay; and shareholdings in online games developer InnoGames, digital sports producer Engage Sports Media, and a number of start-ups.