ITV profits rise – but ad sales fall in "uncertain" market

Emma Haslett
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House Of Fraser British Academy Television Awards 2016 - Winners Room
Team Poldark was rewarded with a Bafta last year (Source: Getty)

Pre-tax profits at ITV rose in the year to the end of December, it said today – but ad sales dipped three per cent, partly thanks to uncertainty.

The figures

Anyone worrying about the fate of ITV in a post-Downton Abbey era needn't have bothered. The company said total revenue rose three per cent to £3.1bn, while pre-tax profits rose four per cent to £847m.

Revenues at ITV Studios, its programme-making arm, rose 13 per cent to £1.4bn, although revenues in its broadcast and online arm dropped one per cent to £2.1bn.

Advertising revenue declined three per cent to £1.7bn (although it did point out that performance was ahead of the general market).

Earnings per share rose three per cent to 17p, while it hiked its ordinary dividend 20 per cent to 7.2p per share, and added a 5p per share special dividend.

Shares rose two per cent to 206.7p in early trading.

Why it's interesting

Whether you're in print or telly, being part of the traditional media isn't easy right now: shares in ITV have fallen 22 per cent in the past year (although it's up more than 1,000 per cent from 2009).

But last year ITV said it was planning to ease off its reliance on spot advertising and grow new revenue streams, and it looks like that's beginning to work, with more than half of its revenue coming from sources outside traditional TV spot advertising in 2016.

That's partly thanks to its studio business, which is performing strongly. In fact, more than 50 per cent of the studio's revenue comes from outside the UK, with shows like Poldark, The Voice, Victoria and The Good Witch all proving to be smash hits across the globe. That global outlook was reflected yesterday, when it bought French TV production company Tetra Media Studio.

Rather refreshingly, today's results statement didn't mention the B-word – Brexit – anywhere. But Adam Crozier, ITV's chief executive, did cite economic uncertainty as it suggested net advertising revenues will fall six per cent over the first four months of this year, although it added over the full year it expects that to outperform the rest of the TV ad market.

Read more: Sky is set to hike prices

What ITV said

In a statement today chief executive Adam Crozier said:

ITV delivered a good performance in 2016 as we continue our strategy of rebalancing and strengthening the business creatively, commercially and financially. T

Looking forward to 2017, ITV Studios will return to good organic revenue growth. As we previously stated, increased investment in US scripted content including Somewhere Between, The Good Witch, Sun Records and Snowpiercer, along with the reversal of the one-off benefit of The Voice of China in 2016, means that ITV Studios profits in 2017 are likely to be broadly in line with 2016.

In short

A decent performance for a company looking to new revenue streams in a difficult climate.

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