Why is ITV investing in Pawn Stars?

Oliver Smith
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Over the last 12 months ITV has spent nearly £300m on buying six television producers in a push to bolster its content creation arm, ITV Studios.

Today the studio took an 80 per cent stake in Leftfield – the producer behind hit US reality TV shows including Pawn Stars, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Blood, Sweat and Hoes – for $360m marking ITV’s largest acquisition this year.

But why is the broadcaster focusing on original content and ITV Studios? Simply put, it’s the fastest growing portion of ITV’s business.

While broadcast and online advertising brought in the majority of ITV’s revenue last year, some £1.89bn of a £2.75bn total, its advertising growth stood at just three per cent.

ITV Studios meanwhile saw revenue growth of 20 per cent to £857m, and profits soared by 24 per cent to £133m.

As Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker says this morning, for ITV the deal is a no-brainer:

We see the acquisition as a big strategic positive: it makes ITV an even more serious player in the US reality entertainment market (ITV states it is now the largest US independent unscripted reality content business).