DHX Media has concluded a strategic review, announcing that it’s refocusing its content strategy on growing its WildBrain YouTube network and developing premium originals.
As part of the review, the Halifax-based children’s entertainment company has signed a multi-million-dollar agency agreement for the Peanuts brand in China and Asia with CAA Global Brand Management Group LLP, a division of Global Brands Group. The move follows the previously-announced sale of a minority stake in Peanuts to Sony for $235.6 million CDN.
Additionally, DHX Media’s board of directors has suspended the company’s quarterly dividend, effective immediately, freeing up approximately $10 million in annual funds, to invest in the company’s WildBrain business and continue paying down debt.
“We are well positioned to enter our next stage of growth, focused on what we identified during the strategic review as the two largest opportunities for kids’ and family content: accelerating investment in our WildBrain network to capitalize on the rising popularity of kids’ content on YouTube; and better leveraging our IP portfolio to produce premium originals for major streaming services,” said Michael Donovan, executive chair and CEO, DHX Media. “We believe this refocusing of our strategy will allow us to deliver significant growth, while generating free cash flow to pay down debt.”
The company plans to invest in more short-form content to deliver rapid returns on investment by leveraging data from WildBrain’s 2.4 billion monthly views and over 50 million subscribers, to create and develop global brands.
It will also prioritize new content development on premium, original long-form series to meet the rising demand from major streaming platforms for exclusive programming.
Donovan says DHX will take a highly-targeted approach to developing content, focusing on kids’ shows with the greatest consumer products potential.
During the strategic review, the company also undertook a comprehensive internal review of its management team, putting in place a new CEO, CFO, COO, President and CCO (Chief Commercial Officer).
On the operations side, DHX has reduced its overall facilities footprint by 35,000 square feet, including consolidating its Vancouver animation production from two studios into one, and reduced its development slate and production pipeline to focus on key, high-profile properties. The company also made staff reductions, including licensing its interactive games business to a third-party.
While in the early stages, the company says results from the changes have generated positive cash flow of $37.8 million for Fiscal 2018, excluding one-time acquisition and related refinancing costs of $24.4 million, compared to ($6.5) million in the prior fiscal year.
DHX Media stock saw a one-day drop of 33 per cent earlier this month on news of anticipated fourth quarter losses. Reporting final numbers today (Sept. 25), in Q4 2018, adjusted EBITDA amounted to $16.0 million and net loss attributable to shareholders was $21.6 million. For Fiscal 2018, adjusted EBITDA rose to $97.5 million, with net loss attributable to shareholders of $14.1 million.
DHX stock closed up more than 10 per cent at $1.50.
Subscribe Now – Free!
Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 25 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.
The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.
Let’s get started right now.