The production arm of UK broadcaster ITV has placed its international operation at the heart of its growth strategy, while playing down its domestic acquisition plans.
ITV Studios (ITVS) yesterday announced it had acquired Norwegian production house Mediacircus, which will become part of its ITV Studios Nordic operation. It also formed a strategic partnership with Israeli broadcaster Reshet.
“We see the Nordics creatively as an important driver of our future performance,” ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said about the Mediacircus deal.
On the alliance with Reshet, he added: “The market in Israel is becoming a real creative hotbed, particularly for exports, so that’s a good partnership deal for us.
“As part of the strategy, now ITVS is getting into the right shape, we potentially would look at partnerships and mergers and acquisitions if the right opportunities came up and if they were bang on strategy. If they are we’ll look at them as and when they come up.”
However, Crozier would not be drawn on “speculation” linking ITV to takeover bids for UK producers Hat Trick Productions and Left Bank Pictures, the latter also having had conversations with Sony Pictures Television.
“We see strong organic growth right at the heart of our international content strategy and I don’t believe there are many content companies recording growth levels on revenue of around 34%,” he said.
“That’s a good sign for us. The quality of the work and ability of the work to travel is improving all the time. We now have eight programmes being produced across three or more countries as opposed to just four at the same period last year.”
ITV yesterday reported ITVS’s revenue for the first six months of this year rose £91m (34%) to £355m compared with the same period last year. Profit rose by £12m or 32% year-on-year.
The studio has had 61 new commissions so far this year, including dramas Mr Selfridge, Mrs Biggs and A Mother’s Son; entertainment shows My Man Can and Fool Britannia for ITV1; and factual series Shetland and Chatsworth for the BBC.
International commissions based on ITVS formats include The Audience, May the Best House Win, Come Dine With Me, Surprise Surprise and quizshow The Chase. Mr Selfridge has also been pre-sold to broadcasters in the US, Australia, Sweden and Israel.
ITVS has had 61 recommissions this year, including dramas Vera, Lewis and Munroe in the UK, and Hell’s Kitchen and The Jeremy Kyle Show internationally.
“We are achieving some really strong organic growth in ITV Studios,” Crozier said. “We want to increase the amount of programmes we make for ourselves. Owning IP is very important for us.
“Owning that IP is what’s driving all that international growth of ITVS. That’s why it’s up in terms of revenue because we’re creating more of our own programmes that can then travel around the world.
“Content is right at the heart of our business. We’re an integrated producer-broadcaster. What you can see in the results is that is working and it’s working extremely well for us. That’s the model we think is right for the organisation.”