ITV, the free-to-air broadcaster, yesterday said sales of hit shows such as Downton Abbey had boosted its revenues, allowing it to become less reliant on an advertising market it expects to slow down this year.
Non-advertising revenues jumped 11 per cent last year to £922m, accounting for around 43 per cent of overall revenue.
Since Adam Crozier joined as chief executive in 2010, the broadcaster has experienced steadily improving fortunes, although analysts put this down to a strong advertising market.
Yesterday’s numbers are the first indication that Crozier’s five-year turnaround plan – which is currently in its second year – is gaining some traction.
ITV Studios, the division responsible for producing in-house content that can be sold across the world, saw a 28 per cent increase in commissions, the company said. Titanic, a mini-series penned by the Downton Abbey screenwriter Julian Fellowes, has already been sold in 86 countries.
A string of content deals with the likes of Sky, Netflix and Lovefilm also boosted the amount of revenue ITV generated by selling its shows for a fee.
Group pre-tax profits were up 14.3 per cent at £327m on revenues that were five per cent higher at £2.1bn. Shares in the group closed 6.7 per cent higher at 86p.
Analysts welcomed the fact ITV appears to be weening itself off advertising revenues, especially as the broadcaster said it expected them to fall by two per cent in the current quarter.