ITV’s Q3 trading update shows continued difficulty with revenues down 16% year-on-year at £1,860m (2019: £2,209m) for the nine months to September 30.
There are signs of recovery after a vastly challenging year, however, with advertising spend recovering from the low of being 23% down in July to 3% up in August, 2% down in September, and 1% down in October.
The company’s chief executive Carolyn McCall said it was forecasting Q4 ad revenue to be slightly up year on year.
The green shoots are also visible in production, with 85% of its 230 shows that were impacted or delayed by the lockdown now either delivered or back filming. Despite England entering a second lockdown this month, production can continue on these shores, though positive COVID tests continue to cause disruption.
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ITV Studios revenue continued to dip, down 19% for the year at £902M (2019: £1,116m).
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Viewership figures saw a 2% increase in live viewing for the period, though online viewing was down 6%. ITV blamed there being no summer Love Island and fewer soap episodes.
The company said it was on track to deliver £60M in cost saving in 2020. A total of £10M of that saving will be permanent.
ITV also touted the success of BritBox, saying it had 1.5 million U.S. subscribers and was continuing to roll out internationally, with Australia imminent. It added the next BritBox UK original would be available in H1, 2021.
“We are seeing encouraging signs in both our divisions,” said Carolyn McCall on today’s update. “Advertising trends are improving with Q4 forecast to be slightly up year on year… However, COVID restrictions and further national lockdowns have added production costs and are making it challenging to bring ITV Studios productions back to full capacity.”
“Looking ahead we will continue to monitor our performance very carefully against a wide range of scenarios given the ongoing uncertainty. We continue to focus on cash and costs and our balance sheet remains robust with good access to liquidity.”
Back in August, ITV yanked its shareholder dividend “in light of continued economic uncertainty.”
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