ITV claims green shoots in Q1 2021 trading | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Defying the Covid-19 generated headwinds that have persisted since March 2020 and provided a brake on its normal operations, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, ITV, has revealed a trading update for the first quarter of 2021 indicating grounds for cautious optimism.
itv hub 15Jan2021
Indeed, for the three-month period ended 31 March 2021, the company’s total revenue and total viewing were both up and most importantly for prospects, ITV finished the quarter with what it called "the substantial majority" of its shows back in production and it claimed a recovery in the advertising market.

Total external revenue was up 2% year-on-year at £709m, despite the Covid-19 restrictions in place throughout the 2021 period, unlike the same quarter in 2020 which only had a limited impact. However, revenue at the Media and Entertainment business line fell 3% on an annual basis to £484m, as a result said ITV of the national lockdown. While ITV’s total advertising was down 6%, online revenue was up 14%.

Total revenue the production powerhouse ITV Studios was up 9% compared with the same period in 2020 at £372m. The business’s productions were largely continuing despite varying global lockdown restrictions, particularly across Europe. Yet it conceded that Covid-19 restrictions globally were continuing to impact the delivery of productions with international travel and multi-location shoots, particularly drama.

ITV total viewing was up 1% in the quarter driven by programmes such as Unforgotten, Saturday Night Takeaway and Six Nations rugby. On-demand portal the ITV Hub saw registered users rise 5% year-on-year and with dwell time rising by 6%. Overall online viewing was down 11% in Q1 impacted by the absence of flagship show Love Island in January and February. Excluding the impact of Love Island, online viewing was up 23% in Q1. While ITV main channel's share of viewing (SOV) was up from 17.9% to 18.2%, ITV Family SOV was down from 23.6% to 23.1%.

Looking to the future, ITV said that while there was uncertainty, the macro business environment continued to improve and that it was encouraged by the outlook for total advertising in the first half, which it forecast would be up around 26%, compared with the same period in 2020. Moreover, the company was confident that it was increasingly well positioned to benefit from the opportunities and address the challenges of changing viewing habits and the strong demand for content globally.

“We are encouraged by the UK roadmap out of lockdown and remain cautiously optimistic about the year ahead,” said ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall commenting on the Q1 trading statement. “Our advertising revenues are rebounding from last year … and we expect May to be up around 85% and June up between 85% and 90%, compared with the same period in 2020. This is driven by UK Covid-19 restrictions being reduced and a strong schedule featuring Love Island and the Euros. 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.”