ITV, Britain’s leading private broadcaster, announced its full-year results this morning with revenue growth across all parts of the business, along with double digit profit growth. Overall revenues were up 15% to £2.97B ($4.14B) with pre-tax earnings up 18% to £865M ($1.25B). The production business, ITV Studios, saw total revenue rise 33% to £1.2B ($1.67B), the first time it’s passed £1B. Profits for the division were £206M ($287M), a jump of 27%. The international content business was strengthened by ITV’s continuing stream of acquisitions which in 2015 included Talpa Media, Twofour Group and Mammoth Screen.
In a call with reporters, ITV CEO Adam Crozier called Studios, “The world’s most profitable production business outside the U.S studios.” In the UK, revenue was up 19% to £547M; ITV America grew by 36% to £320M; and the rest of the world was up 124% to £213M. Studios, Crozier said, “is in rude health at the minute. I can’t think of another content company growing at the rate we are.”
Former ITV Studios Managing Director Kevin Lygo recently moved over as Director of Television with veteran Peter Fincham stepping down. Crozier said Lygo is getting his new team in place (the broadcaster’s Director of Entertainment and Comedy, Elaine Bedell, is also exiting). “It’s good for us to look at everything we do creatively on the broadcast side and have a refresh,” Crozier said.
Forecasting 2016, he said ITV is expected to outperform the advertising market in the UK. Q1 will be flat, but the Euro Cup football tournament will help drive positive growth in Q2. Share of viewing was down 3% in 2015, but is already up 5% this year.
The broadcaster recently acquired The Voice which it snatched from the BBC after losing out several years ago. There’s been speculation that another singing competition might have an impact on Simon Cowell’s aging X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent as those shows’ contracts expire this year. Crozier said ITV wants to keep the programs, “I’m a big fan of both and both are really good for ITV, they’re synonymous with ITV. I’m a big supporter of Simon Cowell and I’m sure we will sort out the right kind of deal. All we want is for them to be a success.” Crozier’s not stopping there, expecting more entertainment formats down the road. “We have great shows, but we need more. But we also need to make sure we love our current shows to death and improve performance all of the time.”
There are also 50 more hours of drama ahead in 2016, the first year the flagship channel will see without Downton Abbey. New and returning programs include Jenna Coleman period series Victoria, miniseries Tutankhamun, the David Shore-exec produced Houdini And Doyle, NBC’s Aquarius, and Brenda Blethyn-starrer Vera, along with ITV-owned Mammoth Screen’s Poldark which airs on BBC One.
Looking ahead, Crozier said, “We’ll continue to build scale and to capitalize on the strong demand for high quality content that travels, with a particular focus on investing in creative talent and scripted projects, and working with more channels and platforms in the UK and internationally.”
The production company shopping spree that ITV has been on will also continue as further acquisitions are expected, the company said.