Management Commentary

Management Commentary

The year 2023 was full of challenges, which we were able to overcome thanks to our dedicated work and the right strategic decisions, achieving significant progress and strengthening our position as the leading digital media company in the Baltic States.

One of the key challenges is the continuation of the war in Ukraine. This significantly affects entire Europe, including Estonia. In our media company, we have had to learn new ways of covering the conflict and how to ensure the safety of journalists and the coverage of reliable news. We have also had to deal with propaganda and cyber-attacks. Last year, Ekspress Grupp's media outlets largely focused on ensuring that the coverage of the war would not show any signs of fatigue. We need to find new angles to keep our readers interested – this is how we can make our best contribution to support Ukraine.

In 2023, we also adhered to our mission to serve democracy, and provide a high-quality and unbiased news feed. Our readers appreciate it highly, and the value of quality news content will continue to grow over time. The highlight of the year 2023 was artificial intelligence (AI), and the benefits and problems associated with it. Content production has never been that easy, but in the future content will become less important than those who publish it. Credibility will become an even more valuable currency, and media companies will play an even more important role in filtering misinformation.

Mari-Liis Rüütsalu
Chairman of the Management Board, Chief Executive Officer of the Group
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The year 2023 was another year of strong sales growth for Ekspress Grupp. Despite the economic downturn, which shaped the entire economic environment in the Baltic States, the Group’s revenue increased by 14% in a year and totalled EUR 73.1 million. Against the backdrop of the general economic slowdown, digital advertising revenue has been in an upward trend both in Estonia and Lithuania, and in general, the growth of total sales revenue is differentiated and distributed across all main business segments. Digital revenue increased by 21% in a year and contributed 83% to the Group’s total revenue by the end of December. The digital revenue growth of the Group’s media companies and the number of customers with digital subscriptions increased strongly in all three countries. The revenue of ticket platforms and the advertising revenue of outdoor screens have demonstrated strong growth.

In Latvia, the total market volume decreased and the advertising revenue of Ekspress Grupp earned in Latvia was also 6% lower than last year. However, this decrease in Latvia was offset by the revenue growth of the ticket platform and digital screens. The Group’s ticket platform increased sales both through the number of events in the portal as well as the growth in the average ticket price.

Over the last year, the Group gained almost 61 000 new readers with digital subscriptions in the Baltic States, i.e. 41% more as compared to the end of December 2022, reaching 207 000 subscriptions. The Group’s digital revenue is increasingly more based on digital subscription revenue, and an even larger monthly recurring revenue base is being created without the need for additional sales activity (costs). The average price, which was higher than previously, also made a positive contribution to the subscription revenue growth. We have also improved the quality and volume of the content provided by the Group’s media companies, in order to be the leader in the field of digital subscriptions in all Baltic States.

Argo Rannamets
Member of the Management Board, Chief Financial Officer of the Group
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The year 2023 was another year of strong growth for Ekspress Grupp – Delfi Meedia AS surpassed the magical 100 000 subscriber threshold.

The year is characterised by the following digital trends:

- digital revenue growth was strong in all Baltic key markets, customer awareness to pay for digital content keeps increasing;
- artificial intelligence and the tools that are based thereon are increasingly influencing the text, sound and video images;
- focus on ease of use and cyber safety becomes increasingly more important.

Last year, the market for digital subscriptions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania developed in the expected direction. Ekspress Grupp, as the largest provider of news media digital subscriptions in the target markets, increased the number of digital subscriptions in the Baltic States by a total of 41% during the year, reaching 207 000 subscriptions by the end of the year. In Estonia, the number of digital subscriptions of Delfi Meedia grew the most, increasing by 20% year-over-year (+17 242) and exceeded the 100 000-subscriber threshold for the first time in December. The number of digital subscriptions of Genius Meedia increased by 25%. Õhtuleht Kirjastus, Delfi in Latvia and Lithuania also continued to ride the growth wave of digital subscriptions, increasing digital subscriptions by 10%, 87% and 112%, respectively, as compared to the previous year. The news portal Lrytas entered the Lithuanian digital subscription market as a newcomer, with over 6000 subscribers by the end of the year. Rapid growth has been ensured by customers' willingness and awareness to pay for digital content, as one of the biggest leaders in the news field is Ekspress Grupp with its international streaming and music services.

Karl Anton
Member of the Management Board, Chief Innovation Officer of the Group
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