The broadcaster has seen ad sales slump after a positive start to the year, hit by tough comparatives owing to last year’s World Cup. Overall ad sales for the first half were up two per cent, lagging slightly behind industry peers, with group revenues rising four per cent to more than £1bn.
However, stringent cost cutting helped push pre-tax profits up 73 per cent to £204m, leading chief executive Adam Crozier to reintroduce a dividend after a three year break.
Crozier announced a five year plan for the company after taking the reins last year, with a reduction in the firm’s reliance on core TV advertising central to his vision.
ITV Studios, the production business behind hit shows including “I’m A Celebrity...”, showed signs it may take up some of the slack, with revenues increasing 11 per cent to £140m.
However, online revenue remained resolutely low, clawing in just £16m. The firm plans to introduce an online micropayments model to its on-demand web service ITV Player early next year.
Crozier said: “We’re making good progress on delivering our strategy of creating great content and exploiting it across multiple platforms and selling it internationally.”
ITV shares closed up 1.3 per cent.