ITV reports ‘strong’ 2018 results but warns of advertising challenges ahead

ITV reports ‘strong’ 2018 but warns of looming ‘headwinds’

ITV has reported a ‘strong’ fiscal performance in its newly published full-year results for 2018, a position the broadcaster attributes to the success of its production arm and More Than TV revenue strategy.

Favourable performances through 2018 saw external revenues increase by 3% to £3.2m with total advertising revenues also heading in the right direction with 1% uplift, with online growth of 36% more than covering a decline in spot advertising.

Advertising was further aided by a 3% boost to viewing figures over the period, with online viewing jumping by an impressive 32%.

"The economic and political environment has rarely been less certain but we are delivering in the areas of the business which are under our control and building an increasingly resilient business for the future," said chief executive Carolyn McCall.

She added that the broadcaster was making good progress in its More Than TV strategy – "repositioning the ITV brand, developing our data and digital capabilities, increasing our ability to offer addressable advertising and expanding our direct to consumer activities" – but warned of challenges to come.

“We have started 2019 with strong onscreen and online viewing. However, the economic and political headwinds for the UK will have an effect on the advertising market and while ITV is increasingly diversified, we remain sensitive to this.”

The UK's biggest commercial broadcaster is forecasting that total advertising will be down 3% to 4% over the first 4 months, with spending decline already apparent from supermarkets and the high street.

Alluding to why its More Than TV plan to reduce its dependence on advertising is so important, ITV said in its annual report: "the well-publicised issues with the high street, retail and other FMCG companies have put their budgets under pressure and they are spending less and have generally reduced spend across all media. Our strategy is designed to address the challenges and the opportunities that they present."

ITV is close to concluding negotiations with the BBC to bring their BritBox streaming service to home turf.

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