ITV bucks recession with Q3 rise but sees rough ride ahead

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 14-11-2011

Despite the tough economic times, ITV has delivered relatively robust financial performance for its third quarter and first nine months of 2011.
Total external revenues for the UK's leading commercial broadcaster during the nine months ended 30 September were up 4% to £1.515 billion with ITV Broadcasting & Online revenues up 3% to £1.291 billion.

The ITV Family’s share of viewing (SOV) year-to-date was up 2% year on year to 23.0%. ITV1 SOV remained broadly flat at 15.6% but digital channels stood out with ITV2 SOV up 8% year on year, and ITV3 and ITV4 both up 10%. Online, long form video views climbed by 62% in the first nine months of the year.
Despite all of this, ITV Family NAR inched up by just 1% in Q3 2011, up 2% in the first nine months. ITV expects ITV Family NAR to be down 2% in Q4, with October down less than 1%, November up 3% and December down by what is a hugely disappointing around 10%. Yet even so broadcaster believes that it is on track to outperform the TV advertising market in 2011.
Explaining the growth in the nine month period, ITV’s management pinpointed its new ITV Studios management team as delivering ahead of expectations, fuelled by new investment designed to revitalise the creative pipeline, with particularly strong growth in international business. ITV Studios external revenues were up 9% year on year to £224 million in the nine month period. By way of contrast ITV Studios internal revenues were up 6% to £192 million.
So far in 2011, the division has had 89 new commissions of which 40 are international including Prime Suspect which sold to 30 countries and Titanic, a major new drama for 2012 by Julian Fellowes, which has been sold to 57 countries.
Yet ITV is expecting a rougher 2012 predicting quarterly revenue trends to follow a different pattern to 2011 with tough comparatives continuing into the first quarter. That said, ITV does expect to get a revenue kick in Q2 2012 during the Euro 2012 football tournament for which England has qualified.
Commenting of the nine-month performance during what he called difficult economic and market conditions, Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV, said: “Our relentless focus on delivering the Transformation Plan is now impacting positively on our results.... Our on-screen performance in the Autumn is being driven by a strong schedule which includes the Rugby World Cup, Downton Abbey, Doc Martin, and the X-Factor, as well as The Jury and I’m a Celebrity. We are still in the early stages of our five year Transformation Plan which we are on track to deliver, and we remain optimistic about ITV’s prospects in the medium to long term.”