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ITV ad revenues plummet amid crisis

UK commercial broadcaster ITV experienced a decline in revenue in the first quarter of 2020, exacerbated by a huge drop in April advertising despite viewing figures rising amid the coronavirus crisis.

Carolyn McCall

ITV’s total external revenue in the three months to March 31 decreased by 7% to £694m (US$858m), from £743m in the first three months of 2019.

This was largely due to an 11% fall in revenue at ITV Studios (ITVS) to £342m from £385m, with the company having to pause the majority of its productions because of Covid-19, and a 9% fall in advertising year on year.

The channel also suffered a huge 42% loss in advertising in April although viewing increased thanks to a 75% rise in online viewing, a 112% growth in simulcast viewing and a reach increase of 40% on AVoD platform ITV Hub.

Broadcast revenue rose by 2% to £500m from £489m in the same period the year before, with ITV’s total advertising revenue up 2% and online revenue up 26%.

The flagship ITV linear channel’s share of all viewers was up at 17.9%, its best quarter since 2009. Its family viewing share slipped by 2% to 23.6%, which ITV said was partly impacted by the volume of pubcaster rival the BBC’s news output.

Meanwhile, the company said sales arm ITV Studios Global Distribution was seeing good demand for library content internationally, as networks look to fill gaps in their schedules caused by cancelled productions.

ITV also confirmed it is aiming to reduce its programme budget by at least £100m in 2020 to £1bn, while cutting capital expenditure by £30m and overhead costs by £60m.

The company has furloughed around 800 staff, accounting for approximately 15% of its UK workforce, the majority of whom work at ITVS.

Looking ahead, ITV said that with the outlook remaining uncertain and changing rapidly, it would not be providing guidance for the second quarter or remainder of the year.

The network has lost the Euro 2020 football tournament from its summer schedule following its postponement to next year, while earlier this week it was forced to cancel the summer season of hit format Love Island, which is produced and distributed by ITVS.

“ITV has taken swift and decisive action to manage and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, by focusing on our people and their safety and by continuing to reduce costs and tightly manage our cashflow and liquidity,” said CEO Carolyn McCall. “We are also ensuring that we continue to inform and entertain our viewers and stay close to our advertisers.

“Everyone at ITV has responded extremely well to the challenges we are facing. We are now very focused on emerging from this crisis in a strong position, continuing to offer advertisers effective marketing opportunities and making preparations to restart productions safely.”


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