UK commercial broadcaster ITV has said that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind it after the company’s total revenue rallied £372M ($516M), or 26%, in the first half of 2021.
ITV’s total sales hit £1.8B in the first six months of the year after a return to form for ITV Studios, the production arm responsible for global hits including Love Island, The Voice, and Line Of Duty.
ITV Studios’ revenue climbed 26% to £798M in the first half of the year as the majority of its shows returned to production. ITV said the production arm also delivered programs ahead of schedule.
As well as a recovery at ITV Studios, ad revenue also compared favorably with the first half of 2020, when the market fell off a cliff during the first UK lockdown. ITV’s total ad sales were £866M, up £195M, or 29%, on last year. June brought with it an advertising bonanza during Euro 2020.
ITV’s adjusted EBITA rallied in the first six months of 2021. Earnings reached £327M between January and June, which was a 98% increase on the same period in 2020. Earnings per share rocketed 103% to 5.9p.
“ITV is emerging from the worst effects of the pandemic,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, hailing a “really strong” set of earnings. “We are optimistic about the future, despite the ongoing pandemic risk on our advertising and ITV Studios revenues.”
ITV said net debt was down 40% to £467M, while the company expects to deliver £30M of permanent cost savings over the course of 2021 as a result of “headcount savings from reorganisational changes.” ITV split into two divisions this year: a media and entertainment unit, and ITV Studios.
Delving into the detail of the earnings, ITV Studios increased its sales to streamers by 84% in the first half of the year and is on course to double its revenue from the platforms in 2021. It pointed to shows including Netflix and BBC co-production The Serpent, but warned that working with the streamers is not without risk.
“It limits the ability for us to maximise margins on high-value scripted titles as the OTT platforms invariably want worldwide rights for original commissions,” ITV said.
ITV Studios’ U.S. revenue grew 82% to £160M on the back of deliveries of Physical to Apple TV+ and Season 2 of Snowpiercer to Netflix. ITV Studios’ total EBITA rose 53% to £95M in the first six months of the year.
Elsewhere, ITV revealed that BritBox, its joint-venture streamer with the BBC, now has 555,000 subscribers in the UK (up 10%) and 2M (up 18%) in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Growth has slowed somewhat in the UK, but McCall stressed that the streamer remains “bang on the plan.”