UK broadcaster ITV reported that external revenue rose 27% in the first half of 2021 to £1.5 billion (US$2.1 billion), powered by a 26% increase in ITV Studios revenue and a 29% rise in total advertising revenue, while viewership fell 6%.
Total revenue at the company’s production arm, ITV Studios, rose to £798 million as production resumed on the majority of its shows and the unit “successfully manages the challenges presented by COVID-19 and UK isolation policies,” while several programs and licenses were delivered early.
The company said total viewing across ITV was down 6% in the first half of the year amid stiff competition and the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK, but the broadcaster still reported strong numbers for popular unscripted series like The Masked Singer and Love Island.
Total revenue for the company’s Media & Entertainment unit rose 25% to just over £1 billion, up from £822 million a year earlier, and an increase of 4% from the same period in 2019, as advertising “rebounded strongly.” Ad revenue in June was up 115% from a year earlier thanks to easing restrictions and the Euros — the company’s best June on record.
ITV also reported a 55% increase in video on demand advertising (AVOD) for its Media & Entertainment segment.
In a letter to shareholders, the company said its on-demand strategy will be led by AVOD to allow it to “respond to the evolving viewing and advertising environment”. The company also said it will continue its investment in data, technology and analytics “to enable further platform integration and a more seamless viewer experience”.
The company also highlighted ITV Studios’ new and returning unscripted series commissions like The Cabins and Dancing On Ice in the UK, as well as Love Island in the UK, Spain, Germany and Netherlands and The Chase in the UK, U.S., Germany and Australia, while acknowledging that “challenges remain in delivering programmes under COVID-19 restrictions,” in particular on multi-location productions.
“Our H1 results demonstrate that ITV is emerging from the worst effects of the pandemic. We’ve continued to implement our key strategic priorities and have further strengthened the business,” said ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall in a statement to shareholders. “We are now a more flexible, more efficient and more digital business. We have successfully completed the first phase of our More Than TV strategy and look forward to building on this platform to accelerate our transformation to a digitally led media and entertainment company.
“We are optimistic about the future, despite the ongoing pandemic risk on our advertising and ITV Studios revenues.”