Thursday 12 November 2020 8:16 am

ITV forecasts advertising rebound after Covid-19 slump

ITV today said it expects advertising revenue to be slightly higher year on year in the fourth quarter as spend begins to recover from its pandemic-induced slump.

The broadcaster said total advertising spend was down seven per cent in the third quarter, a sharp improvement on the 43 per cent crash posted in the previous three months.

Read more: ITV to launch streaming unit and cut London office space in restructuring plan

The key fourth quarter — known as the golden quarter due to increased advertising in the run-up to Christmas — is expected to be up roughly six per cent on the same period in 2019, subject to the current lockdown in England ending on 2 December as planned.

ITV, which will air the new season of hit reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here from Sunday, said the majority of its productions in the UK and overseas had resumed following a coronavirus shutdown.

But it warned continued social distancing rules and further lockdown measures have added to production costs and prevented it from bringing ITV Studios back to full capacity.

“We are seeing encouraging signs in both our divisions,” said chief executive Carolyn McCall.

“Advertising trends are improving with the fourth quarter forecast to be slightly up year on year and 85 per cent of our productions in the UK and internationally that were paused as a result of Covid-19 are back in production or have been delivered.”

In the first nine months of the year ITV booked a two per cent increase in total viewing, spurred on by higher demand for news programming and popular dramas such as Des and Honour.

But online viewing was down six per cent due to the cancellation of Love Island and fewer episodes of soap opera favourites such as Coronation Street.

Overall revenue to September dropped 16 per cent to £1.9bn, with broadcast and production revenues down 13 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

ITV last month unveiled plans to launch a new business division focused on streaming as it looks to adapt its output to the on-demand age.

Read more: ITV profit halves during pandemic amid ‘most challenging period in history’

The public service broadcaster’s on-demand unit will be dedicated to its ITV Hub platform and Britbox, the company’s joint streaming service venture with the BBC.

ITV will also reduce its office space in London over the coming years in a bid to cut costs.