Crown Media Holdings Inc. (CRWN)

Q1 2010 Earnings Call

May 5, 2010 11:30 am ET


Mindy Tucker - IR

Bill Abbott - President and CEO

Brian Stewart - EVP and CFO

Charles Stanford - EVP - Legal and Business Affairs, General Counsel


Peter Alkin - Stifel Nicolaus

Sal Muoio - SM Investors

Lawrence Stern - Stern Capital

Michael Kupinski - Noble Financial



Good day, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Crown Media first quarter Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded.

Today's presentation includes forward-looking statements regarding the company and its performance. The forward-looking statements may concern, for example, accepted financial positions and operating results, its business strategy, its operating and financing plans and other matters. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in or implied by any forward-looking statements and should be considered in conjunction with the cautionary statements including in our press release and our most recent reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission including our most recently filed annual and quarterly reports.

Any forward-looking statements are made only as of the date of this conference call based on information known today to the company’s management. The company is not undertaking any obligations to update any forward-looking statements.

I would now like to turn the call over to, Mindy Tucker. Go ahead, Mindy.

Mindy Tucker

Thank you. Good morning everyone and welcome to Crown Media’s first quarter conference call.

With me today are Bill Abbott, President and Chief Executive Officer and Brian Stewart, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Bill and Brian will make some comments about the operating results and financial performance for the first quarter and then we will open up the call for questions.

I would like to remind everyone that our press release, which contains information on non-GAAP measures, was distributed this morning and is available through the Investor Relations section on our website at In addition, our 10-K will be filed later today.

Now, I would like to turn the call over to Bill.

Bill Abbott

Mindy, thank you. Good morning everyone and thank you all for joining us today. Our results for the first quarter of 2010 reflect the continued challenges of operating our business, although the adjustments we have made to offset our reduced revenue growth continue to be effective in increasing our adjusted EBITDA.

Revenues were down for the quarter, but despite this, our adjusted EBITDA increased over 30% as compared to the first quarter of 2009. Our strategic initiatives to develop two distinct yet complementary channels have been moving forward with several developments all the time to maximize the value of each channel by getting further distribution, appealing to more viewers, and attracting advertisers at higher rates.

The recapitalization of our company is proceeding as planned and we expect to complete this transaction sometime in the second or third quarter of this year, creating a more financially sound structure, which will better position us for long-term financial success.

Now let's get to some of the details. We continue to experience a decline in our ratings for the first quarter as our daytime programming schedule has undergone changes, as we work to develop the most daytime lineup in advance of our launch of the Martha Stewart Show: Season 6.

In prime time, we are more successful with our schedule premiering five original movies the quarter, which were among the top performing programs in their time period.

Acknowledging that we needed to reinvigorate our daytime lineup with a new approach, the first quarter of this year was one of significant strategic development in positioning Hallmark Channel for future rating success.

We solidified and reformulated daytime strategy for introducing a lifestyle programming block with the formation of a partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which includes the exclusive license of the Martha Stewart Show, development of additional original lifestyle series, original prime time specials throughout the year tied to holidays and the exclusive rights to the extensive library of lifestyle programming.

This programming will provide us with a full weekday daytime schedule of popular and established lifestyle programming from 10 am through 6 pm with additional episodes daily on weekends.

Our prime time and weekend schedule will continue to feature our strong slate of original movies, specials and Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations.

The addition of Martha Stewart programming allows us to reach a new level in terms of programming, ratings and advertising. The possibilities for new original series of specials are endless. Martha Stewart is the premier name in terms of lifestyle, creativity and home orientation covering everything from entertaining, weddings, and holidays to crafting, cooking, gardening, and pets.

Combined with the obvious synergies with Hallmark Cards and Celebrations, the programming ideas are unlimited. We believe this programming will work extremely well in appealing to our key demographic of women 25-54.

In addition, we expect a strong audience in the heartland, will combine with the metropolitan appeal of the Martha Stewart Show to improve and solidify our ratings.

An important benefit recently to the introduction of the new programming is the potential for increased advertising revenues. The Martha Stewart Show attracts a significant number of advertisers with attractive sponsorships and product placement opportunities.

We believe that the Martha Stewart programming, in general, will bring in new advertising categories and new clients. We recently participated in the Martha Stewart upfront media presentations for the upcoming broadcast year in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which will help to maximize the benefits of our new relationship as it relates to advertisers and agencies.

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