EXCLUSIVE: ITN has become the latest blue-chip British production company to reveal the scale of the financial damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a set of 2020 earnings published on the UK’s Companies House, Britain’s premier news producer revealed that its pre-tax profit fell 54% to £1.1 million ($1.53M), while operating profit was down 39% to £6.2M. It follows other producers, such as ITV Studios, posting similar double-digit declines. ITN’s group revenues dropped 11% to £121M.
ITN, which has just appointed former NBC News executive Deborah Turness as its CEO, blamed “unprecedented economic challenges” relating to Covid-19, but said it actually weathered the storm reasonably well last year. This is largely because it has a stable base of income, thanks to its news contracts with ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5.
“ITN proved its resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, continuing to deliver a range of output to its client base and audiences at home,” the company said, but it predicted that financial disruption will continue into 2021. “The group is budgeting to return an improved result for 2021 versus 2020 but not a full return to 2019 levels due to the ongoing pandemic conditions,” ITN forecast.
As well as its news output, its television production arm ITN Productions is responsible for Netflix shows including History 101 and Drug Lords. ITN Productions had a record 741 hours of content commissioned or transmitted in 2020, not least 20 royal documentaries, such as Meghan and Harry: The New Revelations for ViacomCBS-backed Channel 5. This did not prevent ITN Productions’ revenue from dropping by a third to £29.5M, thanks in part to canceled sports events, such as the World Athletics Indoor Championships.
Turness is replacing Anna Mallett, who was poached by Netflix last November to become VP of physical production. Mallett steps down on April 26, meaning her tenure at ITN has been almost exactly two years.