(Reuters) - Mediaset (MS.MI) said on Tuesday its failure to retain football broadcasting rights weighed on advertising revenues in October but the resulting lower costs allowed the Italian private broadcaster to cut its third-quarter operating loss.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) showed a loss of 9.1 million euros ($10.3 million) in the third quarter, less than the loss of 42.2 million euros a year before.
The Milan-based broadcaster, controlled by the family of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, expects its operating result for the full-year 2018 to be slightly above last year.
The broadcaster lost its rights to broadcast the European football competition UEFA Champions League to European pay-TV group Sky in the 2018-2021 bidding round last year.
Mediaset executives said in a conference call after results that net advertising revenues were down 1 percent in October including the loss of UEFA Champions League broadcasting rights.
Third-quarter revenues fell 5.7 percent to 629.1 million euros in spite of a 3.5 percent rise in net advertising revenues in Italy also thanks to the closing phases of the FIFA World Cup.
The company said stagnation in the Italian and Spanish advertising market was one reason behind the drop in nine-month advertising revenues.
Sky with sports media group Perform also won the rights to screen top-flight Serie A football matches in Italy until 2021 in June.
The Italian broadcaster, which strained its finances to buy rights in the previous three-year tender for Serie A, managed to keep offering its pay-TV subscribers Serie A matches through a deal with Perform.
On a like-for-like basis which excludes the loss of football broadcasting rights, net advertising revenues were up 3 percent, said the executives, adding that the company expected the same trend for the rest of the year.
The executives said the company estimated costs in 2019 would fall in the range of 1.87 billion to 1.89 billion euros, partly thanks to lower costs for football rights.
Reporting by Gdynia Newsroom; Editing by Edmund Blair