ITV's ad revenues underperform
ITV's total revenue in the first quarter has dropped 4% to £743m, higher than market forecasts and a warning of potentially difficult times ahead.
The broadcaster, delivering a trading update ahead of its annual meeting today (May 8), said its plan and performance were on track, but total advertising is expected to be down 6% in the first half of 2019 following a decline of 7% in Q1.
The broadcaster blamed political uncertainty and the late timing of Easter on the results, while stating revenue growth in ITV Studios and its VOD platform had helped offset the decline in spot advertising.
“ITV’s performance in the first three months was very much as we expected," said chief executive Carolyn McCall.
“Viewing has continued to be strong with ITV Family share of viewing up 4% and a 16% increase in viewing hours on the ITV Hub."
McCall said this reflects the "strength and depth of our schedule" with highlights such as Manhunt, Cheat, Cleaning Up and The Bay, which were the four most watched new dramas so far this year with more than 7m viewers each.
Strong viewing figures for the Six Nations and Dancing On Ice were also credited.
“ITV Studios delivered 1% growth in organic revenues," McCall added. "We remain confident that we will deliver good organic revenue growth in ITV Studios over the full year and have already secured over £120m more revenue for 2019 than at the same time last year."
However, Ian Whittaker, an analyst at Liberum, said the results were "another disappointment".
"There are many things to be positive about ITV, especially on its viewing performance, and the shares are undoubtedly cheap but, with an uncertain political environment and a continuing pattern of downgrades, it is hard to push a buy case now," he said.
ITV's share price dropped more than 5 per cent on today's early morning news. Over the last year its shares have given up 14 per cent of their value.