ITV shares pushed higher today as the broadcaster revealed it has secured UK rights to Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The London-listed company fended off competition from rivals Sky and Channel 4 to acquire the eagerly-awaited chat, in which the couple discuss their decision to quit the royal family.
The special edition of the show, distributed by Viacom CBS, will be aired on Monday 8 March at 9pm.
ITV reportedly won the bid even though its offer of less than £1m was exceeded by both Sky and Channel 4.
Producers instead chose ITV as they believed the channel would pull in the largest possible audience, the Mirror reported.
The eagerly-anticipated interview comes amid tense scrutiny of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following their decision to step back from royal duties and move to the US, blaming intrusive coverage from the British press.
“This interview is already a national talking point and ITV is pleased to be able to offer UK audiences the opportunity to see it,” said Kevin Lygo, managing director of media and entertainment.
It came as shares in ITV closed up 4.3 per cent ahead of the company’s full-year results next week.
The public service broadcaster has previously forecast a recovery in advertising revenue in the fourth quarter after suffering a pandemic-induced slump in the first half of the year.
ITV has also indicated that production activity had begun to recover after filming resumed, albeit with Covid safety measures in place.
In a further boost to the sector, chancellor Rishi Sunak today confirmed an extension to the government’s £500m film and TV production restart scheme.
Analysts at Shore Capital forecast full-year revenue of £2.9bn for ITV, down from £3.3bn in 2019. The brokers also expect a 23 per cent decline in pre-tax profit to £408m and a dividend of 3p.