CEO Doug Murphy said the company kicked off the new fiscal year with a 'stronger-than-anticipated quarter'

Corus Entertainment Inc. says it’s ahead of its expectations in the first fiscal quarter despite a 10 per cent loss in revenue, and anticipates a steady recovery in 2021.

The media company, which operates Global News and other television and radio stations, reported a $47.5 million loss in revenue in its first quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended Nov. 30, 2020.

Its television and radio segments saw a revenue drop of nine and 26 per cent, respectively, from the first quarter last year, mostly due to shrinking ad revenue with the resurgence of COVID-19.

However, Corus did see sequential improvement, including greater revenue from the last financial quarter in both television and radio as well as a repayment of $34 million in bank debt.

“This promising start to the year coupled with the significant progress we are making to advance our strategic plan will position us extremely well as we emerge from the current climate as a new, stronger Corus,” said Doug Murphy, Corus CEO, in the the first quarter earnings conference call on Tuesday.

While ad revenue dropped 15 per cent from last year, subscriber revenues remained the same and merchandising, distribution and other revenues increased eight per cent.

The company postponed several television show premieres last year and plans to launch them in the first and second fiscal quarter of 2021.

Subscriber growth on its Amazon Prime Video streaming packages StackTV and Nick+ and strong content licensing sales helped offset the company’s loss in television ad revenue.

After expenses, depreciation, integration, interest and other costs, Corus reported a net income attributable to shareholders of $76.7 million. This is a $1.4 million decrease from the first quarter last year. 

Diluted earnings per share are at 37 cents, with no change from last year.

Overall employee costs decreased by four per cent from the last quarter, which the company attributes to their estimated Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy benefit, lower freelancer costs, lower part-time employee costs and lower short-term compensation accruals.

In July, Corus laid off a number of Global News staff in the lifestyle, entertainment and social media teams.

Corus reported an estimated $3.7 million benefit through CEWS, with $2.5 million allocated to its television segment, $400,000 to its radio segment and $800,000 to corporate.

The company declared quarterly dividends of six cents per Class B share and 5.875 cents per Class A share.

This quarter, Corus paid $16.7 million in dividends, compared to $16.1 million in the previous year.