TV/STREAMING . . .

Spotify Hits 100 Million Paid Subscribers. The music streaming service now has 217 million active monthly users as it looks to grow its advertising and video revenue. Music streaming giant Spotify on Monday reported a smaller fiscal first-quarter loss and said it grew its user base to 100 million premium subscribers and 217 million total active monthly users. Premium users were up from 96 million in the fourth quarter and 75 million in the year-ago period, while active monthly users were up from 207 million in the fourth quarter and 173 million in the year-ago period. Spotify had predicted the former to reach 97 million-100 million and the latter to hit 215 million-220 million in the latest quarter. The premium user gain was "driven by a better-than-plan promotion in the U.S. and Canada and continued strong growth in Family Plan," Spotify said. "We also saw strong growth from the expansion of our Google Home Mini promotion, as well as the price reduction to our Spotify Premium+Hulu offering in the U.S." The company, led by CEO Daniel Ek, said its loss for the first quarter came in at $158 million (142 million euros), compared with a year-ago loss of $189 million (169 million euros). The company said on an operating basis its loss was better than expected as "a result of higher gross profit and lower-than-expected marketing spend." Revenue rose 33 percent to nearly $1.7 billion (1.5 billion euros), while operating expenses increased 30 percent. For the third quarter of 2018, Spotify had posted its first-ever quarter of positive net income thanks to a big tax-related benefit from the increased value of the company's 9 percent stake in Chinese online giant Tencent's Tencent Music, but highlighted that the resulting 43 million ($48.7 million) profit would be a one-time event. "We launched India in late February expanding our global market footprint to 79 countries," Spotify highlighted. "More than 1 million users signed up for Spotify in our first week in the market, and growth has continued to outpace our expectations. We now have more than 2 million users in India." Spotify forecast that its monthly active user count would hit 245 million-265 million for the full year 2019, with its total premium user base to reach 117 million-127 million. Spotify in March filed an anti-competition complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC), the regulatory body of the European Union. "In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience -- essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers," Ek said back then. "After trying unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, we're now requesting that the EC take action to ensure fair competition." Apple responded by saying that the music streaming giant "wraps its financial motivations in misleading rhetoric" and wants to "keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem, including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store's customers, without making any contributions to that marketplace." (Hollywood Reporter)

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