The home of Broadchurch and Downton Abbey, ITV this morning reported strong revenue growth for the full year ended December 31. Pre-tax profit was up 23% to £712M ($1.09B), beating analyst estimates. There was a 6% hike in net advertising revenue to £1.63B and expectation is that the trend will continue with an 11% jump in the first quarter of 2015. The production division, ITV Studios, saw 9% revenue growth to £933M and a 22% increase in profits to £162M. That trajectory should continue with about £100M revenue growth on a constant currency basis in 2015. ITV has been on an acquisitions spree in the past few years, building its arsenal of production companies. It is in talks to make its biggest acquisition yet, discussing a purchase of John de Mol’s Talpa Media.
International production revenue was up 24% with almost half of that coming from outside the UK. ITV Studios is now the largest unscripted independent production company in the U.S. following the 2014 acquisitions of Leftfield Entertainment, DiGa Vision and United Production. Chief Adam Crozier noted that in both the UK and the U.S., ITV is “focused on growing our capability in high quality drama.”
The broadcast business saw profits rise 17% to £568M. Following a downturn in audience numbers that has hit the market pretty much across the board, Crozier said a focus would be improving those figures in the coming 12 months. Upcoming new scripted programming includes Jekyll & Hyde, The Forgotten, Thunderbirds Are Go and Safe House as well as the return of Prey, Downton Abbey and Vera.
Crozier said, “For 2015 we’re confident of further good revenue growth in all parts of ITV. In ITV Studios we’ll again see upside from our acquired businesses as well as a return to good organic growth as we continue to invest in creative talent and content. In our broadcast business, online, pay & interactive will deliver another strong performance and we expect again to outperform the TV advertising market.”