Rightster Group plc
(“Rightster” or the “Group” or the “Company”)
Unaudited half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2014
Rightster Group plc (AIM: RSTR), the cloud-based global video distribution and monetisation network that simplifies delivery to TV scale audiences in the complex online video market, today announces its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2014.
The Company continues to display encouraging growth across the business. H1 2014 has seen the addition of some exceptionally strong partnerships in the media, news, film, sport and entertainment sectors as well as ongoing strengthening of the publisher network. The integration of the Company’s acquisitions in 2013 continues to yield positive results whilst the groundwork for two new transformational acquisitions was laid in H1 2014. The Board believes that these new acquisitions will propel Rightster, in H2 2014, to the position of largest YouTube Multi Channel Network (MCN) outside of North America and, in Management’s estimates, the fourth biggest MCN in the US. Coupled with the positive results achieved in H1 2014, these acquisitions build a good foundation for the growth expectations for H2 2014.
New agreements across all verticals
Mergers and Acquisitions
Synergies expected from the acquisitions
Charlie Muirhead, Founder and CEO, of Rightster commented:
“I’m delighted that Rightster has achieved Net Revenue of £1.9 million in H1 2014, and am thrilled to see the continuous growth in our average monthly video views, with a 131% increase from H1 2013 to H1 2014. The addition of some exceptional new clients throughout H1 2014 signifies great progress for Rightster – it will increase the volume of quality content available for publishing and distribution partners across our network as well as increasing opportunities for advertising revenues.
I’m grateful for all the hard work the team has provided in laying the foundations for the two new acquisitions, namely Base79 and Viral Spiral, which I believe will be transformational for Rightster in H2 2014 and beyond. Together, they more than double the number of content partners on Rightster’s 360° video distribution platform and catapult us past the 1 billion video views per month milestone, making Rightster the largest YouTube MCN outside North America and, by our estimates, a top 5 YouTube MCN in North America. Importantly, this greater scale and expertise improves the service we will be able to offer Content Owners, Publishers and Brands for the remainder of 2014 and beyond. We are especially excited about how, post acquisitions, Rightster is positioned as a global leader in the rapidly expanding market for Brands and Media Agencies.
For further information please contact:
Rightster Group plc
Patric Walker (CEO) / Niall Dore (CFO)
Max Hartley / Mark Connelly (Nomad)
Tel: 020 7397 8900
Tim Thompson/ Adam Lloyd / Robyn McConnachie
Tel: 0207 653 9850
About Rightster Group plc
Rightster was founded in May 2011 by CEO Charles Muirhead, with the vision of enabling media businesses and brands to overcome the huge fragmentation in the online video market with a single technology platform for engaging audiences and transacting with optimal efficiency. Rightster’s cloud based software and services platform makes it simple for sports, fashion, news, entertainment, music, and viral rights holders, as well as brands and creators, to enhance the value of their video whether on a licenced, ad-funded, direct to consumer or paid placement basis.
Following the acquisitions in July and August 2014, Rightster’s network now stands at over 1,950 Content Owners and over 7,500 Publishers. The Group now employs 256 staff in 11 offices across 10 countries.
Financial growth and KPIs
The Company’s ‘upload once commercialise everywhere’ solution optimises the distribution and monetisation of live and on-demand video, enabling Content Owners, Creators, Publishers and Brands to transact with peak efficiency. Rightster is delighted to report that it has achieved Net Revenue of £1.9 million in H1 2014, a growth rate of 385% versus H1 2013, after adjusting for a terminated contract. The Gross Profit of £0.5 million achieved in the H1 2014 period almost matches that achieved for the full financial year ended 2013 and is an encouraging start to the year for the Company.
Rightster is also pleased to report the continued growth in average monthly video views to 371 million per month, a 131% increase from H1 2013 to H1 2014. This organic growth stems from both new and existing clients and includes the Company’s YouTube Multi Channel Network (MCN) channel management services, distribution to Content Owners’ own sites in the Rightster Player and distribution to Rightster’s network of over 7,500 Publishers and platforms.
Growth of Client base on the Rightster Network
Throughout H1 2014, the Company has continued to build its client portfolio internationally, with the addition of some strong partnerships in the news, sport, entertainment and film sectors. The new additions to Rightster’s network increase both the volume of quality content available for publishing and distribution partners to access and the audiences available to Content Owners, in turn increasing opportunities for advertising revenues.
All of the main segment revenue streams are up versus 2013, with advertising up 268% to £0.8m due to growth in volumes across the Rightster network, despite a reduction in CPMs across the period. Subscription revenue has grown 28% to £0.5m and is driven primarily by improved performance on our contract with AFL. Theatrical revenues are up 83% to £0.6m following the acquisition of Preview Networks in April 2013. The bookmaker revenue stream in 2013 was wholly related to a terminated contract in 2013. All bookmaker revenues in 2014 represent new contract wins.
The advertising revenue stream consists of a number of sectors including news, sport, entertainment and film. New contract wins are detailed across these verticals below.
In News, these include Agence France-Presse (“AFP”), one of the world’s leading news agencies, who joined Rightster’s network in February. AFP now syndicates a selection of its international news videos to websites within Rightster’s network in over 7 languages, offering an easy solution to international and local Publishers around the world to rapidly access and stream AFP video content. Additionally, Al Jazeera Media Network partnered with Rightster in June to syndicate up to 30 English language short-form international news clips per day, enabling the Al Jazeera Media Network to grow its audience reach and generate revenue streams in new international territories including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Elsewhere in News, Rightster finalised an agreement with the India Today Group Digital (“ITG”) to exclusively monetise the views on ITG’s sites, syndicate its content across Rightster’s publisher network and become its content sourcing partner. ITG’s content includes premium magazines, leading news channels and Indian editions of international premium publications, such as Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping and Men’s Health. In addition, Rightster entered into a 360° partnership with eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) in March, encompassing its on and off YouTube activity. The partnership sees Rightster manage the eNCAnews YouTube channel and syndicate eNCA short-form news clips globally outside of South Africa aiming to grow views, subscriptions and revenues.
The above are significant wins in the news sector, broadening our geographic reach and adding to our extensive roster of news clients which already includes ITN, Reuters and CNBC. These new deals further validate Rightster as the partner of choice to support news networks in reaching and engaging audiences on all platforms.
In Sports, The International Boxing Association (“AIBA”) entered into a five-year agreement with Rightster in March, to enable boxing fans to access the WSB on a dedicated service across multiple devices at AIBAboxingTV.com. This website supports both live and on demand functionality and allows fans to choose from a flexible range of subscription passes. The agreement enables AIBA to capture engagement data for WSB Season IV and, as part of the partnership, Rightster will also manage AIBA’s three YouTube channels, helping to increase audience and engagement. In June, Rightster also partnered with the International Table Tennis Federation (“ITTF”) to further develop the ITTF’s YouTube channel and help maximise its exposure and revenue from the channel. The ITTF’s YouTube channel is currently the fourth largest of any Olympic sport, with 26 million views and 55,000 subscribers. By joining the Rightster sports network, the ITTF will benefit from cross-promotion with Rightster’s extensive portfolio of existing international sports governing bodies, driving further audience engagement for the organisation. In addition, Rightster’s media sales team will apply their expertise to increasing revenue through cross-platform advertising and sponsorship on behalf of the ITTF. Working with these international sporting federations is a fantastic validation of our work in creating highly effective platforms to drive revenue and engagement for our partners, building upon our strength in the sports industry.
In Entertainment, Rightster signed a distribution partnership with Scripps Networks International (“Scripps”), the leading global developers and broadcasters of lifestyle programming, to syndicate and monetise premium lifestyle content in the UK for both the Food Network and Travel Channel. Working with Rightster enables Scripps to reach food and travel fans wherever they may be, on whatever device they’re using. In June, Rightster also entered into a partnership with Bauer Media, Europe’s largest privately owned magazine, online and broadcast publishing group, to accelerate its online video strategy both on and off YouTube.
In Film, Rightster signed an agreement with the British Film Institute (BFI) to manage its YouTube presence and plans to work closely with the BFI to grow the partnership through future syndication opportunities. Following the acquisitions of Base79 and Viral Spiral in H2 2014, Rightster is positioned as a leading provider of studio market solutions both on and off YouTube, with clients including some of the biggest studios such as Warner Bros, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney and Columbia Pictures.
In addition, Rightster has continued to strengthen its Publisher network throughout H1 2014, with the addition of over 10 top tier publishers and broadcasters worldwide for content syndication, content sourcing and/or YouTube channel management.
Upselling additional services to existing clients
As well as expanding its client portfolio, Rightster has also been focused on upselling additional services to existing clients, typically for extending their audience reach or increasing their revenue potential. These additional services also have the effect of further cementing client relationships with Rightster.
Following a period of significant growth for the Barcroft TV digital channel and an initial partnership agreement with Rightster signed in April 2013, Barcroft TV became the top-performing channel in the Rightster MCN with a subscriber base growing ten-fold from 45,000 net subscribers in April 2013 to over 480,000 in May 2014. In June 2014, Rightster entered into an extended agreement with Barcroft Media to support Barcroft TV’s creation of multiple, dedicated digital channels, and the production and curation of high quality, shareable short and long form video content. This agreement expands Barcroft TV’s global reach and Rightster’s 360° distribution service which enables Barcroft TV to channelise its content into specific genres, so that it can be marketed to selected brands and more effectively monetised. Furthermore, it allows advertisers to more effectively target key demographics and geographies, maximising their return on investment (“ROI”) through the combination of Rightster’s advanced analytics solutions and Barcroft TV’s highly shareable content and dedicated channels.
Another interesting client upsell example is with the world’s leading sports video news agency, SNTV. Rightster noticed that increased engagement with sports content was occurring on Connected TVs and that this presented a great opportunity for brands to reach additional audiences. To help one of its long-standing clients benefit from this increased engagement, Rightster developed an app for SNTV to enable Samsung Smart TV owners to access a vast vault of high quality SNTV content at the swipe of a screen. The app gives consumers complete control over what sport news and highlights footage they watch and when, and is dedicated to providing the consumer with the very latest global sports news content, including the very latest developments from big tournaments such as the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup. The SNTV app is also designed to integrate Samsung’s advertising AdHub service, which will support video ad formats.
Another example is the Australian Football League (“AFL”) who, in April, were keen to launch, in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force (“ADF”), a new initiative to provide a free online season pass to all active Australian military personnel stationed overseas. Given the extent of ADF members serving overseas who are followers and supporters of Australian Football, Rightster was delighted to be able to support the AFL in offering free online season passes for the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, thus expanding the reach of the audience for AFLTV. The AFL were grateful that Rightster could help commence this initiative from Anzac Day and help all active Australian military personnel posted around the world to have a simple way to enjoy and engage with one of Australia’s premier sports online.
The Company is highly focused on brand solutions and firmly believes that the immediacy and power of online video can help companies and brands reach their audiences in a more engaging and authentic way. The need for targeted, engaged audiences continues to be paramount and, in H1 2014, Rightster strove to drive larger, scaled, relevant audiences for all its clients.
In May 2014, the Company announced the launch of a new service called Engage which provides Content Owners and Brands with the ability to leverage premium digital video content to targeted online audiences at television scale. This initiative enables Rightster to meet its clients’ ultimate goal of guaranteed views and optimal ROI. Unlike other similar paid offerings in the market, Engage provides a holistic service for video management across clients’ owned and operated sites, as well as their YouTube channels, and editorially “earned” distribution.
During the April 2014 pilot phase at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, the service drove over one million online viewers, with 450,000+ watching the live stream across 140 countries. These results were driven by Rightster’s unique approach to guaranteeing audiences, increasing viewers 20 fold on the previous season, whilst maintaining engagement at an average 12 minute watch time. Rightster has now extended the service to Content Owners and Brands, enabling them to forecast audience size and engagement and therefore optimise campaign efficiency and effectiveness.
Development of 2GA
The Company’s second generation software platform (2GA) is on track to roll out in Q4 2014, and substantial development work has been conducted by Rightster’s engineering team throughout H1 2014 in preparation for its launch. The aim of the 2GA platform is to ensure rapid distribution, syndication and monetisation of content across the Rightster network in an automated format that is both intuitive and convenient for Content Owners and Publishers to use. Features will include an enhanced Content Library, Publisher Feedroom, Content Operations and Monitoring tools as well as unique Client Portals and sophisticated Reporting tools.
Rightster is excited about the many additional benefits that the 2GA platform will bring to its clients, as well as the further efficiencies it will generate for Rightster’s operations and the potential new revenue streams that it could deliver. The Company looks forward to providing the market with a fuller explanation of these benefits following the formal launch of the 2GA platform in Q4 2014.
The Company continues to see the benefits of the effective integrations of its acquisitions in 2013. As a result of the acquisition of Sports Syndicator, Rightster’s network ranked No.1 in Comscore’s UK sports display advertising category for unique users in March 2014, with the network reaching 8.3 million unique UK users, over 50% ahead of the second ranked network. As a result of the effective integration of Preview Networks, the Company continues to yield substantial revenues from its distribution of film trailers and branded content in H1 2014 and enjoys a continued relationship with premium clients such as Warner Bros, Paramount and 20th Century Fox.
In order to further accelerate its growth, Rightster has previously stated that it would continue to consider strategic acquisition opportunities if they could add clients to the Rightster network, provide additional expertise and monetisation potential or expand the Company’s geographical footprint. Rightster pursued two such strategic opportunities in H1 2014 in the form of Base79 and Viral Spiral.
Base79 are specialists in YouTube rights management, audience development, media sales & brand partnerships and possess a world class management team. We believe that the acquisition of Base79 brings significant scale benefits with Media Agencies, Brands and Content Owners and will enhance Rightster’s expertise in the growing YouTube ecosystem. Meanwhile, Viral Spiral is a specialist player in social video management, licensing and brand engagement, connecting major brands and agencies worldwide seeking to engage next generation audiences with social video talent. Their management team has a track record and expertise in providing tailored solutions for brands and this acquisition is expected to provide significant upside for the combined business.
Acquiring Base79 and Viral Spiral is transformational for Rightster. Together, they more than double the number of Content Owners on Rightster’s 360° video distribution platform to over 1,950, add over 2,000 YouTube partners and propel the Company past the 1 billion video views per month milestone, making Rightster the largest YouTube MCN outside North America and, in Management’s estimates, a top 5 YouTube MCN in North America. Importantly, this greater scale and expertise improves the service Rightster will be able to offer Content Owners, Creators, Media Agencies and Brands, improving the ability to both grow audiences and increase monetisation whilst positioning Rightster as a global leader in the rapidly expanding online video market.
The Company has previously announced that Mark Lieberman has agreed to continue as chairman on a permanent, rather than interim, basis. On 15 September 2014, in consideration of Mr Lieberman accepting the role of permanent chairman, the Company granted to Mr Lieberman (i) an option to acquire up to 320,000 shares in the Company at an exercise price of £0.56 and (ii) an option to acquire up to 320,000 shares in the Company at an exercise price of £1.00. The grant of these options is in addition to options previously granted to Mr Lieberman.
Rightster announces today that Charl de Beer has given the board notice of his intention to step down as Chief Financial Officer in order to return to his home in South Africa. It is intended that he will be leaving the Company at the end of the year after handing over to his replacement. Although Charl will continue to direct Rightster’s finance activities until his departure date, David Mathewson, currently senior NED on the Company’s board, will take on a more hands-on role with the Company. Mr Mathewson will work with the finance team, strengthened through the recent acquisitions, and lead the search for Mr De Beer’s successor to ensure no disruption to the day to day financial operations of the Company. A search for a replacement is underway and the Company is targeting a shortlist by the end of September.
The board would like to thank Charl for his significant contribution to the business over the last three years. Mr de Beer commented that “Having joined Rightster as a small start-up, I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of its outstanding success to date and I look forward to seeing the Company continue to grow and successfully execute on the long-term strategy we have put in place.”
Revenue invoiced by Rightster less commission share to our partners rose by £1.5 million to £1.9 million (versus H1 2013), a growth rate of 385%. This is after adjusting the H1 2013 numbers for revenue generated by a major contract, which was terminated in May 2013. Without adjusting for the revenue generated by this major contract, revenue less commission share to our partners decreased by £1.6 million versus H1 2013. Advertising CPMs continue to be variable across seasons and events and have been flat or have decreased across the period. Despite this the company has increased inventory volumes significantly over the period and inventory ad-sales account for less than one third of total revenue across the Group.
Revenue was slightly above management’s expectations and reflects the weighting of revenue towards the second half of the year on the back of the launch of the second generation platform and achieving scale in advertising inventory.
Gross profit of £0.5 million was 697% higher than H1 2013 and represents a 28% gross profit percentage, up from 17% in H1 2013, taking into account the adjustment to H1 2013 to reflect the terminated contract.
The gross profit and gross profit percentage were both lower than management expectations, reflecting a larger investment in revenue advances during the period which gave rise to an increase in cost of sales. We expect this investment to continue but that margins will improve over the remainder of the year.
Operating costs continue to be heavily focussed on investment in our technology platform and on growing our network of content owner, publisher and advertising/brand partners.
The research and development (“R&D”) investment in the first half of the year totalled £2.3 million, of which £1.8 million was capitalised during the period.
Total operating costs equalled £6.8 million, which is £1.3 million lower than the £8.1 million in H1 2013, primarily due to the capitalisation of R&D costs incurred on the second generation platform (£nil capitalised in H1 2013).
The total operating costs figure above includes £0.3 million of equity-settled share-based compensation payments (H1 2013: £nil) and excludes £0.9 million of accrued exceptional costs related to the July 2014 placing and acquisitions of Viral Spiral and Base79 (H1 2013 exceptional costs: £nil). The operating loss of £6.2 million has come down from £8.1 million operating loss in H1 2013.
The Company ended the period with cash of £4.1 million of cash in the bank, which reflected the pay down of creditors accrued during the run up to the Company’s admission to AIM in November 2013.
The placing of 75 million shares post period end raised gross proceeds of £42 million. Approximately £27 million of this was used for the cash components of the acquisitions of Viral Spiral and Base79, and after placing and other costs of the acquisitions, the Company has added approximately £12 million of cash to the balance sheet.
Rightster continues to have no debt and incurred negligible finance charges during the period.
Rightster capitalised £1.8 million of R&D spend during the period which has increased the net book value of fixed assets to £4.6 million from £3.1 million at the beginning of the period.
The Company utilised £6.3 million (£8.4 million including capitalised R&D spend) of cash from operations during the period.
Rightster is pleased with the encouraging growth displayed throughout H1 2014 across the business and continues to strive to attain optimum results for its clients.
The 2GA platform has developed significantly over the course of H1 2014 and the Company is excited about the benefits and efficiencies this optimal platform will bring to both Rightster and its clients upon its launch in Q4 2014.
The acquisitions of Base79 and Viral Spiral, which completed in August and July 2014 respectively, are expected to significantly drive Rightster’s ability to grow in scale, both in its products and services as well as geographically, driving increased data reach and capabilities. They are also expected to enable Rightster’s technology and platform to be scaled across thousands of new clients. Together, they have the ability to further grow Rightster’s off YouTube network, as well as its YouTube expertise, whilst retaining Rightster’s industry position as a leading independent player, with an even stronger senior leadership team.
Rightster looks forward to the remainder of the year, where the focus will be on ensuring an effective integration of the two recent acquisitions and the successful roll out of the 2GA platform. Much effort will be put into maximising the greater scale and expertise which comes from the acquisitions to improve the service Rightster will be able to offer Content Owners and Publishers, whilst developing an enhanced proposition to Media Agencies and Brands. With the effective integration of these acquisitions and the benefits and efficiencies created by the 2GA platform, Rightster is confident that its digital distribution solution will continue to scale and its position as a global leader in the rapidly expanding online video market will be solidified.
The Directors confirm that to the best of their knowledge:
On behalf of the Board
Chief Executive Officer
15 September 2014