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Media Future of TV ITV

ITV added 400 advertisers in 2022, but there's spend 'caution' ahead

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By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

March 2, 2023 | 3 min read

Results from the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster indicate advertisers are taking recessionary pressures seriously as ad sales slow in Q1.

ITV

ITV will launch Big Brother in the autumn

ITV is seeing a slowdown in demand from advertisers as businesses "protect profits" during a period of "caution" in the first quarter of 2023.

Speaking on the broadcaster's earnings call, chief executive Carolyn McCall said a "cross-section of advertisers were reducing spend". Anecdotally, travel was up, and the auto sector appears to have resolved supply chain issues. Entertainment, telecoms and retail were also "buoyed up" but other categories are pulling back.

"This is a business issue... it's not just about ad budgets, people are protecting profits across the business in caution," said McCall.

Ad revenue was expected to be down around 11% in Q1, with January down 9%, February 9% and March 16% year-on-year. But it wasn't all bad news for the broadcaster, which is embarking on its biggest marketing campaign to date with a £45m push for its new streaming service ITVX. It expects digital ad revenues to jump by around 25% in the first three months of 2023, revealing the impact of the slump in linear spend which still represents the lion's share of ad revenue.

Its total external revenue was up 8% on 2021 to £3.7bn. But adjusted profit before tax for the year fell 13% to £672m. There were good signs outside of advertising. ITV Studios grew by 19% to £2.1bn.

From 2021, ITV went from 4,000 hours of content available for streaming to 19,000 hours. Total digital revenues were up 18% to £411m; total streaming hours up 9%. Within that, total monetizable streaming hours were up 18%.

On ITVX's progress so far, monthly active users were up 6% and UK subscribers up 17% to 1.4 million. Most of that inventory, 90%, is now "sold through Planet V". It attracted 400 new digital advertisers in the year.

Globally, Britbox, which is part of ITVX in the UK, saw subscribers rise up 25% to 3 million.

Media Future of TV ITV

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