The strong performance of ITV Studios helped offset a revenue decline at the wider ITV operation in the first nine months of the year.
Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster was hit by a fall in advertising revenues in a tough ad market, with overall sales down 1% at £2.1 billion ($2.75 billion). ITV Chairman Peter Bazalgette noted that the market remains challenging. “We are currently seeing a return to TV advertising from some of the FMCGs and grocers although wider corporate confidence in the U.K. continues to be impacted by political and economic uncertainty,” he said.
The broadcaster has sought to diversify its lines of business in recent years to reduce its exposure to the cyclical ad market. Content business ITV Studios and the online and pay segments performed well over the first three quarters. Bazalgette said that “best of British” streaming service Britbox, which is run in conjunction with the BBC and AMC, is performing well and will roll out in other territories. It is currently available in the U.S. No subscriber numbers have been broken out.
ITV Studios posted revenues of £1 billion across the first nine months of the year, a 9% uptick year on year. The number was boosted by acquisitions. With those stripped those out, revenues were up 3% at £948 million.
Bazalgette singled out ITV America as a strong performer within ITV Studios and noted recent acquisitions in Europe. “We are making real progress in building a European scripted business with the recent acquisition of Italian producer Cattleya. This, along with our investment in Tetra in France and our existing European drama businesses, will enable us to benefit from the increasing demand for locally produced content with global appeal,” he said.
ITV said that ITV Studios’ full-year revenues and profit will be in line with last year, while ITV will be down 5% overall. Programming costs will be lower with no major sports tournaments, and the broadcaster said it will make £25 million of savings over the year.