ITV reports increase in ad revenue

Thursday, November 5 2009, 10:10 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

ITV has bucked nearly 18 months of declining advertising figures to report a 4% year-on-year increase in revenues for December.

The positive figures released today by ITV, which holds 40% of the TV ad market in the UK, are expected to raise confidence in the future stability of the industry.

ITV's ad revenue fell by 3% in October, followed by a further 1% drop expected this month, with the last year-on-year increase coming in June 2008, largely due to the European Championships football tournament.

Despite the positive forecast, ITV's total revenue fell by 11% to 1.3 billion during the first three quarters of 2009. In the same period, its broadcasting and online revenues also dropped by 12% to 1.08bn.

However, ITV's online service saw a 45% year-on-year increase in revenues to 16m, with video views on its on-demand platform tripling to 150m.

The autumn schedule on ITV1 also performed strongly, with The X Factor, Benidorm and TV Burp all helping the channel hold a 23.1% total audience share at October 26, compared to BBC One's 22.2%.

Buoyed by strong sales to international markets, external revenues at ITV Studios grew by 11% over the nine months to 229m. However, overall revenues at the division remained flat at 405m.

Welcoming the new figures, ITV's chief operating officer John Cresswell said: "ITV is continuing to deliver a strong operational performance in challenging market conditions.

"All our channels are performing strongly on-screen and ITV1 is extending its lead over BBC One in peak time viewing. Both ITV Studios and are delivering revenue growth. We are meeting our cost savings targets and continue to strengthen our balance sheet.

"While our visibility is limited, the outlook for the fourth quarter has continued to improve and ITV is continuing to outperform the market. With further cost savings and a strong schedule in 2010, including the World Cup, we are confident that ITV is well-positioned to benefit from any market recovery."

Last month, ITV scrapped plans to sell its digital terrestrial multiplex operator SDN to instead raise 120m through a bonds issue. SDN will now be used as asset backing to offset the firm's pension deficit.

The results statement, however, noted that the proposed sale of Friends Reunited to the Brightsolid Group has been referred to the Competition Commission due to monopoly concerns over the UK's online genealogy market. A verdict on the sale will be issued by the commission in April 2010.