ITV slows ad decline

UK commercial broadcaster ITV said it expects Q4 advertising revenues to be up 1 per cent on last year, compared with a decline of 7 per cent across the first nine months of the year. In Q3, advertising sales were down 4 per cent.

Overall revenues for the first nine months were down just 1 per cent to £2.1 billion (€2.35bn), as declines in advertising were almost matched by increased sales of programmes and a push online. ITV Studios, the production business, was up 9 per cent to £1 billion.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, ITV Executive Chairman, said:  “ITV’s performance in the first nine months of 2017 is very much as we anticipated. We’ve seen improving trends in all our key revenue lines in the quarter and we’re on track to deliver on the commitments we set out at the start of the year.

Total external revenue was down 1 per cent to £2,132 million with strong growth in non-advertising revenue largely offsetting the decline in NAR. This is clear evidence of the benefit of rebalancing the business and generating new revenue streams. We are currently seeing a return to TV advertising from some of the FMCGs and grocers although wider corporate confidence in the UK continues to be impacted by political and economic uncertainty.

We have performed strongly both online and onscreen with ITV Family share of viewing up 2 per cent. ITV has maintained its spend on original commissions and continues to deliver the mass audiences demanded by advertisers, with 99 per cent of all commercial audiences over 5 million, as well as delivering the key target demographics.

Online and Pay achieved double digit revenue growth, helped by a 41 per cent increase in online viewing. We continue to invest in growing our digital businesses including ITV Hub and Britbox US. ITV Hub has 21 million registered viewers, including around 75 per cent of the UK’s 16 to 24 year olds, and is the fastest growing PSB online service. Britbox US, our SVoD joint venture with the BBC, was launched earlier this year and is performing well. Over time we are planning to roll the service out to other territories.

ITV Studios delivered a strong performance with good underlying growth across all parts of the business and particularly strong growth in ITV America. We are making real progress in building a European scripted business with the recent acquisition of Italian producer Cattleya. This, along with our investment in Tetra in France and our existing European drama businesses, will enable us to benefit from the increasing demand for locally produced content with global appeal.

We will enter 2018 in good shape with a strong operating performance underpinned by a robust balance sheet, and we look forward to the arrival of our new CEO, Carolyn McCall, early in the New Year.”

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