ITV Acquisition Spree Boosts H1 Revenues

Company says it is currently "not looking" to acquire additional Nordic shingles

U.K. private broadcaster ITV has reported a boost in revenues in the first half of the year, largely driven by an acquisition spree in its production unit.

The company told investors on Tuesday that continued growth in ITV Studios, its production arm, which helped boost its pre-tax profits by 16% to £270 million ($414 million), offset a decline in advertising revenue.

ITV reported a non-advertising revenue boost of 11% to £568 million ($871 million) driven by its production arm and the company’s online, pay and interactive divisions.

ITV Studios, which makes shows such as “Mr. Selfridge” and “Titanic,” reported an 11% increase in revenues to $605 million while total revenues for the whole company sat at nearly $2 billion, delivering a pre-tax profit of $274 million, up 11% on 2012.

The production buying frenzy this year has included controlling stakes in U.S. shingles Thinkfactory Media and Gurney Prods. and U.S. reality producers High Noon Entertainment.

Most recently, the broadcaster snapped up 100% of U.K. shingle Big Talk last week, which produces TV programs such as “Rev” for BBC and “Friday Night Dinner” for Channel 4 in addition to pics such as “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Attack the Block” and “The World’s End.”

“We’re making good progress with our strategy of growing and rebalancing the business as we build new revenue streams and improve margins,” said ITV chief exec Adam Crozier.

He noted that in the first half of 2013, ITV continued to increase group profits and revenues despite an expected fall in advertising revenues.

“ITV Studios delivered further growth in the U.K. and internationally both organically and through selective acquisitions in our key target markets – with total Studios revenues up 11%,” said Crozier. “We’re showing real momentum in our strategy of creating a robust international content business and in building a substantial strength and scale in the U.S. market.”

He also said on Tuesday that ITV Studios is currently not looking to buy anymore companies in the Nordic region, indicating that the company will not bid for Finland’s Nice Entertainment Group, as was previously suspected.

While the company reported TV ad revenue was down 3%, ITV is expected to see a 9% boost in its third quarter with a 12% boost in July and a 20% bump in August thanks to the start of the Premier League soccer season.

Crozier said that last year, advertisers had pulled spend earlier for the pre-Olympics and Euro 2012 months, meaning this summer would see a year-on-year boost as a result.

Additionally, ITV showed growth in online, pay and interactive revenues, which includes its ITV Player catch-up TV service. First half growth for this component of the biz was up 19% to $85.7 million.