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November 11, 2020 |

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ITV Studios revenues down 19% as pandemic buffets UK broadcaster

Love Island

ITV Studios (ITVS) revenues were down almost 20% for the first nine months of 2020, as the ongoing challenges of producing during the pandemic continue to be felt.

The sales and production division of the UK commercial broadcaster said revenues had fallen to £902m ($1.18bn) for the nine months to September, 19% down on the £1.1bn reported last year.

The results, part of ITV’s Q3 trading update, also revealed that the company’s overall total revenue was down by 16% on last year to £1.86bn, while broadcast revenue was down 13% at £1.27bn.

Online decline, production rise

While audience figures generally rose for streamers and broadcasters during the first part of the year as locked down audiences turned to TV for entertainment, ITV said online viewing across its streaming services for the first nine months were down 6% on last year.

ITV added that this was due to the cancellation of the summer season of reality hit Love Island, in addition to fewer episodes of soaps being produced because of the pandemic.

Carolyn McCall

Overall viewing numbers across ITV were up 2%, with an increase in those watching live, but the company’s overall share of viewing in the UK was down 4%, which the broadcaster attributed to the BBC’s increased news output. ITV’s total advertising revenue was also down 16% year-on-year, while online revenues were up 2%.

The broadcaster, which restructured recently to focus on streaming as part of its ‘More Than TV strategy’, also revealed that 85% of its 230 productions that had been impacted or paused by the pandemic had now been delivered or were back filming.

Ad rebound

Advertising was also rebounding, although total spend remained down 7% year-on-year, and CEO Carolyn McCall said there were “encouraging signs” of improvement.

“Advertising trends are improving with Q4 forecast to be slightly up year on year and 85% 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.

“However, Covid restrictions and further national lockdowns have added production costs and are making it challenging to bring ITV Studios productions back to full capacity,” she said, adding that the company remained “focused on executing our More Than TV strategy as we accelerate our digital transformation.”

McCall said: “We have further improved the design and functionality of the Hub which now has 32m registered users; and BritBox is on track, with a very successful launch for Spitting Image – BritBox’s first original commission.

“Looking ahead we will continue to monitor our performance very carefully against a wide range of scenarios given the ongoing uncertainty. We continue to focus on cash and costs and our balance sheet remains robust with good access to liquidity.”

The results come after a hugely turbulent period for the broadcaster, which was among the first to cut a slew of costs as then pandemic hit, including lopping off 20% from the salaries of senior staff. Its plan to save £60m is also well underway, while programming budgets have been slashed by £100m.

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