ITV Palooza: new content, tech and trading options
Love Island and the Rugby World Cup have helped the UK's largest commercial broadcaster boost viewing figures and ad revenues in the last three months.
As a result, ITV, which held its annual Palooza on Tuesday night, was sounding pretty confident (despite warnings of a lean Christmas).
Over the last quarter, ITV saw ad revenues rise by 1% (following a 5% decline earlier this year). It has also managed to secure four of the five highest-rating new dramas and has now registered 30m subscribers to its VOD platform, ITV Hub.
It has also launched, along with the BBC, BritBox, as it tries to boost revenues via a huge back-catalogue of UK-made shows - although this only received a passing mention during the proceedings.
So, as the hangovers from Tuesday night's cocktail of entertainment and celebrity fade, what can advertisers expect for 2020?
New dramas include typical ITV fare. The highlights include the six-part true crime drama, White House Farm, based on the infamous 1985 murders; more crime (and assumedly murder based on the trailer) in Flesh and Blood with Imelda Staunton; a new period drama from the makers of Downton Abbey, Belgravia starring Tamsin Greig; and Quiz, a dramatisation of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire coughing cheat, and based on the award-winning play of the same name.
Elsewhere, look forward to a fun fly-on-the-wall show following boxer Tyson Fury around as he changes nappies and entertains his neighbours like only Tyson Fury can; loads more detective shows with the usual suspects starring, and a
new entertainment format imported from the US in which celebrities are disguised while singing to an audience, leaving viewers to guess who they are. The show reel made it look like fun, as did the live performance during the Palooza.
With advertising revenue returning to modest growth, and while the political and economic winds remain unsettled, ITV is therefore sticking to what it does best and hoping advertisers will stick along too - "hopefully it's what they want" said ITV's head of studios, Kevin Lygo.
However, ITV is certainly experimenting in other departments. Tuesday also witnessed the announcement of a fully programmatic platform, Planet V.
It promises full optimisation and control over the purchase of campaigns across ITV Hub, allowing them to optimise and monitor campaigns in real time. The platform will also help build audiences with ITV's first party data which can be blended with advertiser data.
It's what advertisers used to the best of online marketing want, and it rolls out next month in a testing stage before launching fully in February. Other broadcasters will be invited to join.
ITV is also attracting smaller advertisers with different types of advertising - such as contra-deal sponsorship opportunities in shows like Love Island, which is flogging the clothes the contestants wear.
Love Island has helped new online fashion brands such as I Saw it First boost year-on-year sales by more than 600%. So expect the show to morph even more fully into a broadcastable fashion catalogue.
And with the UEFA Euro 2020 on the schedule for next year, ITV's commercial bosses - Kelly Williams and Simon Daglish - said they would change the trading options to lower the risk for buyers, placing a fixed CPM to essentially cap the price.
Finally, and it must have nicked this idea from Channel 4, ITV is offering free Euro ad slots to the winner of a creative competition. Entries must produce the most "emotional" ad possible, and the winner gets free airtime.
It's all part of ITV's wider mission to "shape culture for good" and try, one guesses, to elevate itself above other media owners vying for its adspend (we assume they're taking aim at the worst of social media platforms).
It's clear ITV relishes its part in UK culture, and it wants everyone else to relish this too. There's certainly a sense of an 'ITV family' on show at these upfronts. And with fresh US competition - most recently in the form of Disney+ and Apple TV+ - it's a somewhat emotional (and probably smart) pitch to make.