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Audioboom upbeat after 'transformational' year

By Josh White

Date: Monday 18 Dec 2017

Audioboom upbeat after 'transformational' year

(ShareCast News) - Podcast-based audio-on-demand platform Audioboom updated the market on its key performance indicators and trading for the year to 30 November on Monday, describing the 12 month period as "transformational" as it moved from a free-to-use product to a subscription and advertising-supported platform.
The AIM-traded company said that "fundamental change" allowed its to focus on high-performing content, reducing the number of smaller, uneconomical podcasts.

It said unique file requests totalled 696 million in the 2017 financial year, compared to 430 million in 2016 - an increase of over 60%.

Monthly unique users reached 89.1 million as at 30 November, compared to 58.6 million a year earlier, for an increase of over 50%.

Available advertising impressions totalled 2,032 million in the year, up from 242 million in 2016 for an increase of 740% year-on-year.

Audioboom hosted 12,426 content channels as at 30 November, which it said was an increase of over 30% in the year.

That was despite the introduction of the subscription service and the reduction in the number of less popular podcasts on the platform.

In line with its previous announcements, Audioboom also successfully launched the AudioBoom Originals Network in 2017.

The initiative was said to be "central" to the Audioboom business model, creating original intellectual property and helping to grow gross margins.

Audioboom studios produced 10 "owned and operated" shows during the year from its New York and London studios, including political talk show The 45th; sci-fi-fi comedy Mission to Zyxx; and the official US Open Tennis podcast.

AudioBoom Originals were creating more than two million available 'in-read' advertising impressions per month, and the network was responsible for 5% of Audioboom's revenue in 2017, despite only being 'live' for six months of the year.

"In 2018, we expect the AudioBoom Originals Network will grow significantly, making a material contribution to the company's forecast revenue," the board said in its statement.

"15 new podcasts are due to be launched in 2018, beginning with a slate of four shows in January."

Audioboom said it will also further develop its creative services arm - AudioBoom Studios - in the US, UK, India and Australia.

AudioBoom Studios would develop and produce content for premium platforms such as Spotify, podcast networks and brands, and will work as the production partner of CastBox, the Beijing and San Francisco based podcast platform that recently raised $16m.

In India, the company was creating productions for Book My Show, which it described as India's equivalent of Ticketmaster.

Revenues for the 12 months to 30 November were expected to exceed £4.8m - an increase of more than 250% compared to last year.

Certain revenues which were expected to fall into the fourth quarter would now be reflected in the first quarter of the 2018 financial year, the board noted, due to the precise timing of campaigns and bookings, with advanced bookings for the first quarter being ahead of management's expectations.

"The company has continued to take steps to control overheads resulting in below budget operating costs for the period," the board added.

As a result, the company's overall trading for the year, as measured by underlying EBITDA, was expected to be a £4.5m loss - slightly narrower than the £4.6m loss in the 2016 financial year.

That figure included certain one-off transactional and legal costs, which totalled over £0.2m, the board claimed.

If those costs were excluded, the adjusted EBITDA for the year would be further improved to a £4.3m loss.

The company's year-end cash balance was £0.7m - precisely in line with the year prior - with additional available facilities of £0.75m.

"The profile of podcasts and on-demand audio has exploded in 2017. Audiences and digital advertising budgets continue to flock to the medium; a tremendous validation of our business model," said Audioboom CEO Rob Proctor.

"This year has been a pivotal one for Audioboom.

"We focused on the best performing global podcasts, saw revenues increase more than 250%, created our own original content studio - increasing margins - and re-focused and streamlined overheads."

Proctor said that refined business model was now ready to benefit from the tremendous increases in audience and content the board anticipated in 2018.

"Audioboom is now in the strongest possible position to maximise the foundations we have built over the last three years.

"We continue to shape the industry, in particular with the transparency of our data, which has been recognised by the Internet Advertising Bureau, who recently invited us to join their advisory panel.

"Podcasting's continued growth, our platform, model and relationships with the likes of Spotify, Apple, Google, Sony and Deezer mean 2018 should be a very exciting year for Audioboom and its shareholders."

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