ITV ad sales set for steep fall in second quarter

ITV has revealed improving sales in the first three months of the year, but said that advertising revenues in the second will be significantly lower than in 2012.

The broadcaster said yesterday that TV advertising sales in the first quarter had been impressively robust, up six per cent on the same period last year. However, it warned that the current trading period will be much leaner than last year, when sales were boosted by the Euro 2012 football tournament.

ITV forecast that advertising revenues will be down 12 per cent year-on-year in April, down seven per cent in May and down by up to 15 per cent in June. However, it promised an improvement in the second half of the year, predicting growth in July.

The broadcaster has been buffeted by a volatile advertising market in recent years, causing chief executive Adam Crozier to focus his efforts on other sources of revenue.

Crozier has been buying up TV production companies to bolster the ITV Studios arm, with the latest acquisition being Monday’s £17m purchase of a majority stake in Cake Boss maker High Noon.

ITV Studios saw revenues decline by five per cent, although Crozier said this was against a tough comparative period and that he is confident the division will see double digit growth in the year as a whole.

“While we are cautious about the outlook for TV advertising for 2013, our objective remains to outperform the market over the full year,” Crozier said. Overall, ITV saw first-quarter revenues of £666m, up two per cent on a year previously.