U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV’s 2020 half-year earnings have expectedly declined due to the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Total broadcast revenue in the last six months has declined 17% to £824 million ($1.08 billion) from 2019’s $1.3 billion. Similarly, there was a 17% decline in total ITV Studios revenues to £630 million ($830 million) from £758 million ($999 million).
Advertising revenue for the six-month period to the end of June dipped to £671 million ($883 million) from £849 million ($1.1 billion) for the period last year. Overall, ad revenue fell by 43% in the second quarter and by 21% from the period in 2019.
Total external revenue also fell 17% £1.21 billion ($1.6 billion), while adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) plunged a steep 50% to £165 million ($217 million).
“This has been one of the most challenging times in the history of ITV. I am really proud of the way that our colleagues have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and helped demonstrate the enduring value of ITV as a public service broadcaster,” said Carolyn McCall, ITV Chief Executive.
“ITV continues to inform and entertain the nation throughout this crisis, across our six channels including 10 hours of live broadcast every weekday as well as increased content on ITV Hub and BritBox. While our two main sources of revenue – production and advertising – were down significantly in the first half of the year and the outlook remains uncertain, today we are seeing an upward trajectory with productions restarting and advertisers returning to take advantage of our highly effective mass reach and addressable advertising platform, in a brand safe environment.”
While viewership rose 4% during lockdown, the broadcaster had to pull the plug on money-maker “Love Island,” which last aired over the winter and will not return until next summer. The broadcaster is currently readying spin-off “Love Islanders: What Happened Next?” to keep viewers satisfied until the hit format returns next year.
Of the 230 productions that were impacted or paused by the lockdown, around 70% have been delivered or are now back in production, including “Coronation Street” and “Emmerdale,” said ITV. The company expects increased costs of production due to COVID-19 measures.
Streamer BritBox, a joint venture with BBC Studios, is now available in 60% of U.K. households, though exact subscriber figures haven’t been provided. The service is on track to launch in Australia in the fourth quarter of the year and the U.K. service’s first original, a highly anticipated reboot of “Spitting Image,” is due in the fall. BritBox revealed several other originals recently.
The BritBox U.S. service, meanwhile, has now hit 1.2 million subscribers. Launched in March 2017, the service was announced to have surpassed 1 million subscribers only this March, indicating a strong growth spurt during the pandemic.
In March, ITV reduced its program budget by £100 million ($131 million) in the wake of restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, and decided not to pay the previously announced dividend, thereby ensuring that £300 million ($394 million) would be retained within the business.
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.