An extended period of political and economic uncertainty has taken their toll on ITV’s projected ad revenue for 2019, with the broadcaster predicting total advertising revenue of just £417m for the year – down from £448m a year earlier.
This 7% shortfall weighed on total revenues which are projected to fall from 908m in 2018 to just £874m this year with a 1% rise in ITV Studios and a 22% increase in VOD failing to offset the decline in spot advertising.
In a trading update ahead of an annual general meeting later this morning the network sought to apportion blame not just to the macroeconomic picture but also the absence of the Football World Cup, all factors which have conspired to temper first-half expectations.
On a brighter note, the broadcaster reports first quarter performance to be in line with broader expectations, bolstered by healthy viewing figures.
Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, said: “Viewing has continued to be strong with ITV Family share of viewing up 4% and a 16% increase in viewing hours on the ITV Hub. This reflects the strength and depth of our schedule with highlights such as Manhunt, Cheat, Cleaning Up and The Bay which were the four most-watched new dramas so far this year with more than 7m viewers each, and the continued success of the Six Nations and Dancing On Ice.
“We have an exciting schedule for the remainder of the year including Wild Bill, Beecham House, A Confession, the Rugby World Cup and the return of Love Island.”
Fiona Orford-Williams, analyst at Edison Investment Research said: “There’s little surprise that the backdrop for advertising revenues was demanding in ITVs Q1. With the political uncertainty and the very late timing of Easter, the 7% fall was no worse than anticipated, with a slightly better Q2 in prospect to limit the H1 decline to 6%. The main positives are that the BritBox initiative is on track for a H219 launch (albeit that this comes with short-term investment costs) and that an agreement has been reached with Amobee for programmable addressable advertising on ITV Hub, where the number of registered users climbed 29% to £28.4m.”
Looking forward ITV avows that it is on track to deliver the BritBox streaming service in the second half and has made progress toward agreeing on terms with Amobee to enable it to deliver programmatic addressable advertising on the ITV Hub.