ITV earnings tumble in ‘very tough’ advertising market

The broadcaster posted underlying earnings down 52% to £152 million as total advertising revenues slumped 11% in the first half.

Broadcasting giant ITV has seen its first half earnings tumble after battling a “very tough” advertising market as companies slash their marketing spend.

The group behind hit shows Love Island and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! reported group pre-tax profits plunging by 79% to £45 million for the six months to June 30, down from £219 million a year ago.

It posted underlying earnings down 52% to £152 million, which it said reflected the challenging advertising market and the investment in its ITVX online streaming service.

Total advertising revenues dropped 11% to £811 million in the first half after a 12% fall in the second quarter, but it said it was looking to an improved performance in the final six months of 2023, thanks to the Women’s Football World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and next series of Big Brother.

It also cheered a 24% leap in online advertising revenues and an 8% rise in turnover at its ITV Studios production arm, which helped limit the fall in half-year wider group revenues to 1%, at £1.6 billion.

Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, said: “The continued momentum behind ITV’s strategic transformation delivered strong growth in Studios and digital revenues in the first half of the year, largely offsetting the expected weakness in the UK advertising market – with total revenue declining just 1% in the first half, even in a very tough advertising market.”

ITV expects advertising revenue declines to pare back to 4% in July before bouncing back with a 7% rise in August.

ITV said: “It is too early to give a forecast for September, but early signs are positive and we expect to see growth in total advertising revenues in the third quarter, with continued strong growth in digital advertising revenues.”

The group said it expects to deliver “mid-single digit” overall revenue growth for the year as a whole, which would be ahead of the market.

ITV recently abandoned potential plans to buy Gogglebox and Call The Midwife producer All3Media, less than a month after expressing interest in a deal.

It said earlier this month that it “continues to monitor but is no longer actively exploring” an acquisition.

Reports said All3Media is worth an estimated £1 billion.

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