Spotify reports better-than-expected rise in premium subscribers

Spotify has a big lead over its two closest rivals — Apple Music had more than 60 million subscribers as of June and Amazon had over 55 million subscribers globally. (AFP)
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Updated 05 February 2020

Spotify reports better-than-expected rise in premium subscribers

  • Premium subscribers, which account for nearly 90 percent of its revenue, stood at 124 million for the three months ended Dec. 31

Spotify Technology on Wednesday reported a better-than-expected 29 percent rise in premium subscribers in the fourth quarter, as the music streaming company rolled out promotions to battle competition from Apple and Amazon.com.
Premium subscribers, which account for nearly 90 percent of its revenue, stood at 124 million for the three months ended Dec. 31. Analysts on average were expecting 122 million paid subscribers, according to FactSet.
The company also forecast first-quarter premium subscriber numbers largely in line with estimates. It expects total premium subscribers in the range of 126 million to 131 million for the first quarter compared with the estimate of 128 million, according to FactSet Estimates.
Spotify has a big lead over its two closest rivals — Apple Music had more than 60 million subscribers as of June and Amazon had over 55 million subscribers globally.
Spotify, which has banned political ads ahead of the United States presidential election, has also seen its podcasts such as “The Joe Budden Podcast” and “My Favorite Murder” gain a loyal following, while bringing in ad dollars.
Spotify ran several promotional campaigns in the quarter, including one with “3 months on us” intro offer for new users, and a win-back offer for returning customers.
Revenue rose to €1.86 billion ($2.05 billion) from €1.50 billion a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of €1.89 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
It also forecast first-quarter revenue largely below estimates. Spotify expects total revenue in the range of €1.71 billion to €1.91 billion for the first quarter. Analysts were expecting revenue of €1.90 billion.
The company reported a loss attributable to shareholders of €1.14 per share for the fourth quarter.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.