U.K. broadcaster ITV increased external revenues by 2% in the quarter ending March 31, 2021, according to financial results released on Wednesday.
Total external revenue was up 2% at £709 million ($985 million) compared to 2020’s £694 million, despite the COVID-19 restrictions in place throughout the period, unlike the same quarter in 2020 which only had a limited impact, the broadcaster noted.
The “Love Island” broadcaster also said that revenues for ITV Studios were up 9% at £372 million, compared to 2020’s £342 million.
Media and entertainment revenue was down 3% at £484 million, trailing 2020’s £500 million, and was dented by the national lockdown, which only began lifting in April. ITV total advertising was also affected and was down 6%, while online revenue was up 14%.
Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, was bullish about the impact of “Love Island,” one of the broadcaster’s most successful shows. “We are encouraged by the U.K. roadmap out of lockdown and remain cautiously optimistic about the year ahead,” McCall said. “Our advertising revenues are rebounding from last year with April up 68% and we expect May to be up around 85% and June up between 85% and 90%, compared to the same period in 2020. This is driven by U.K. COVID-19 restrictions being reduced and a strong schedule featuring ‘Love Island’ and the Euros.”
The show’s importance to ITV is borne out by the numbers. Online viewing for the broadcaster was down 11% in the quarter impacted by the absence of winter “Love Island” in January and February. Excluding the impact of “Love Island,” online viewing was up 23% in the quarter.
“We have made a good start to 2021 with total revenue and total viewing both up, despite the continuing impact of the pandemic,” McCall added. “We finished the quarter strongly with the substantial majority of our shows back in production and a recovery in the advertising market.
“However, the advertising market and worldwide productions remain exposed to the risks associated with the pandemic. Accordingly, we continue to closely monitor the situation in all the countries in which we operate.
“We remain committed to investing in the acceleration of our strategy to digitally transform ITV which will, in part, be funded by the delivery of our cost saving targets.”
New commissions from ITV Studios include “Grace,” “Vigil” and “The Cabins” in the U.K. and “Physical” and “The Chase” in the U.S.
ITV’s liquidity scenario continues to be robust. At the end of the quarter, ITV had total liquidity of £1.4 billion.