Tuesday 12 November 2019 10:23 am

Rugby World Cup audiences help push ITV ad revenue higher

ITV stuck to full-year guidance today as it revealed a surge in online revenues while rugby fans helped push advertising spend towards the top of its range in the broadcaster’s third quarter.

Total advertising with the broadcaster fell three per cent for the year to the end of September, but climbed one per cent over the third quarter. ITV predicts it will be either flat or up one per cent in the fourth quarter.

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Online revenue rose 23 per cent.

Broadcast and online revenues dropped three per cent to £1.46bn year on year in the first ninth months of 2019. And total external revenues fell two per cent year on year to £2.21bn, it revealed in a trading update.

Meanwhile, ITV’s overall advertising revenue rose one per cent and ITV Studios revenue rose one per cent to £1.12bn. However, the TV giant warned that the timing of new shows in the second half of the year will hurt ITV Studios’ performance in 2020.

But boss Carolyn McCall added: “We continue to expect that over the medium term ITV Studios revenues will grow by at least five per cent compound annual growth rate with a 14 per cent to 16 per cent margin.”

Audiences tuned into the Rugby World Cup, which gathered a peak audience of 12.8m at the final, and four of the five highest rated new dramas.

However, total viewing hours slipped six per cent to 12bn over the period.

The figures may have been impacted by ITV’s decision to axe the Jeremy Kyle Show in May following the death of a former guest on the show. The popular reality TV programme pulled in roughly 1m viewers each day.

The decline in viewing hours may raise concerns over the broadcaster’s ability to maintain its current advertising fees, and the firm has previously said it plans to focus more attention on its online offering.

Nevertheless, McCall cited an “exciting schedule” of shows including Ant and Dec’s I’m A Celebrity, Queer Eye and England qualifiers for the 2020 European Football Championship running into next year.

The broadcaster will next year also launch the winter version of Love Island, its wildly popular dating show.

Along with the BBC, ITV is also launching Britbox, a streaming service packed with the broadcasters’ shows.

ITV is eyeing £20m of cost savings this year as it targets £55m to £60m in savings by 2022.

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“We remain very focused on building a digitally-led media and entertainment company to create a stronger, more diversified and structurally sound business,” McCall said.

“We have a solid balance sheet which enables us to make the right investment decisions and deliver returns to shareholders in line with our guidance of at least an 8p dividend for 2019.”

Main image credit: Getty Images