ITV Studios has said that around 80% of its productions shut down by the coronavirus are now filming again or have been delivered.
The broadcast giant had been forced to halt 230 in-house shows at the height of the pandemic, which dented revenues for the first half of this year by a painful 17%.
Speaking this morning during the ITV Studios Fall Festival, a series of virtual content and production sessions for buyers held over three weeks, the broadcaster struck an upbeat tone, promoting dramas such as submarine thriller Vigil (pictured above), Cattleya’s Romulus and evergreen Line Of Duty 6, as well as reality shows including Love Island USA, whose second season has been shot on a Las Vegas hotel rooftop, and ten year anniversary special The Voice Allstars.
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Julian Bellamy, ITV Studios MD, confirmed that “of shows paused in March or April due to the pandemic around 80% have resumed or are complete and this number is rising.”
The executive was probably speaking for many when he noted that the pandemic had resulted in “the most challenging time of my professional life,” but he praised the ITV team for its resilience.
Bellamy explained that broadcasters would need to put aside money for COVID protocols going forward but didn’t expect drama budgets to be significantly reduced as a result.
“We are having to put aside money for COVID protocols but in terms of whether drama budgets will change, it depends on the size of the project,” he told us. “It’s ultimately about makeability.”
ITV Studios MD of International Production Lisa Perrin added: “Italy is underwriting COVID protocols by raising the tax break. Companies like Cattleya have managed to remain in production for much of this year. Some broadcasters are adding extra to the budget to allow for protocols but it varies between UK and international markets. Broadcasters have holes in their schedules and want full slates so are happy to pay for good content.”
Perrin said the broadcaster’s bottom line shouldn’t be significantly impacted by the absence of a physical Mipcom this year: “We wanted to replace our Mipcom sales push with this virtual event. There may be a small impact but a lot of buyers watch content online now. Hopefully there won’t be much difference to our usual business and we may even see a positive effect.”
ITV Studios yesterday announced a new production label for Happy Valley and Last Tango In Halifax producer Nicola Shindler. How many more labels can the Studios accommodate?
“We don’t have a cap,” said Bellamy. “We’re very comfortable with the drama talent we have. I think we are a force to be reckoned with. If we see the right talent and fit we’ll always be interested in a potential partnership. But don’t forget that the majority of our revenue is in unscripted.”
Bellamy said he didn’t foresee a long-term impact of not being able to film Love Island’s UK summer series this year: “There will be huge anticipation for its return. I’m very confident it will come back strong.”
The broadcaster this morning announced the launch of the Love Island format in Spain and Nigeria.
ITV carried out a significant restructure of its distribution ranks late last year following the departure of Big Brother creator John de Mol. Bellamy was upbeat about the health of the broadcaster’s format offering since de Mol’s departure.
“John’s great legacy for us was The Voice. I think we’re taking it [his exit] in our stride. We’re very confident about our pipeline going forward.”
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