U.K. TV Network ITV Sees 8% Rise in Revenue, 18% Growth in Profit

Returning ITV shows in 2015 include 'Downton Abbey' (above), 'Doc Martin,' 'Prey' and 'Vera'

Downton Abbey Season 6 Premiere Date

LONDON — U.K.-based TV broadcast, production and distribution group ITV has reported an 8% rise in revenue to £2.6 billion ($3.99 billion) for 2014, and an 18% growth in profit (EBITA) to £730 million ($1.12 billion).

Adam Crozier, ITV chief executive, said: “ITV is now a high-growth business with increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution, and is demonstrably much stronger, both creatively and financially, than when we set out on our five-year plan.”

ITV’s five-year “transformation plan,” which was put in place in August 2010, and renewed in July 2014, established several strategic priorities. These were to maximize audience and revenue share from its free-to-air broadcast and VOD business; to grow its international content business; and to build a global pay and distribution business.

Since the plan was put in place, ITV has been investing heavily in production companies — many of which have been in the U.S. — as it attempts to reduce its reliance on advertising revenue from its free-to-air channels in the U.K.

ITV’s investments have included controlling stakes in Gurney Prods., which produces “Duck Dynasty,” High Noon Entertainment, the company behind “Cake Boss” and “Tough Love,” Thinkfactory Media, whose shows include “Hatfields & McCoys,” DiGa Vision, which produces “Teen Wolf,” and Leftfield Entertainment Group, whose series include “Pawn Stars” and “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” ITV is in exclusive talks to buy John de Mol’s production company Talpa Media, which created “The Voice.”

ITV’s production and distribution arm, ITV Studios, saw revenue rise 9% to £933 million ($1.43 billion) in 2014, primarily from its acquisition of production companies, and profit was up 22% to £162 million ($249 million).

“ITV Studios is now well established as a global business, with international production revenue up 24% and almost half its total revenue coming from outside the U.K.,” Crozier said.

ITV’s Broadcast and Online division delivered a 7% rise in revenue to £2.02 billion ($3.11 billion). The broadcast business saw profit climb 17% to £568 million ($873 billion) and advertising revenue up 6% to £1.63 billion ($2.5 billion). Last year, ITV launched its first new channels in almost a decade — ITV Encore, its first pay TV channel, and ITVBe, a free-to-air channel focusing on a young female audience.

ITV’s share of viewing on linear TV was down 5% in 2014. Up-and-coming new dramas include “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Home Fires,” “Arthur & George,” “The Trials of Jimmy Rose,” “The Forgotten” and “Safe House.” Returning dramas include “Doc Martin,” “Prey,” “Downton Abbey” and “Vera.” Other highlights include the launch of kids animation series “Thunderbirds Are Go” in the spring, and the airing this autumn of the Rugby World Cup, to which ITV holds exclusive rights in the U.K.

Revenue from online, pay TV and interactive increased 30% in 2014 to £153 million ($235 million). ITV’s video-on-demand service, ITV Player, is now available on more than 20 platforms.