Ad revenues on the slide at ITV as boss Carolyn McCall warns of Brexit-fuelled uncertainty
No deal warning: ITV boss Carolyn McCall
ITV said Brexit worries are hitting advertising revenues, with boss Carolyn McCall warning of uncertainty.
Despite the World Cup and Love Island pulling in record audiences in 2018, TV ad sales still fell.
And the broadcaster’s boss McCall warned turbulence was set to continue as shares fell 3.1 per cent, or 4.05p, to 127.25p.
The tough conditions have seen the chief executive turn to other sources of cash, such as online advertising and its studio production arm.
Yesterday, she unveiled a joint streaming service with the BBC, offering a British alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Advert-free Britbox will be launched in the second half of the year, McCall said, and will be ‘competitively’ priced.
ITV is initially spending £65million over two years on Britbox.
UK media watchdog Ofcom appeared to welcome Britbox, saying it wanted to see ‘broadcasters collaborating to keep pace with global players’.
However Brexit provided a grim backdrop to the start of 2019, with ITV predicting ad revenues could fall by up to 4 per cent in the first four months.
McCall, 57, said: ‘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.’
Asked about the prospect of the UK delaying its EU departure beyond March 29, she said: ‘Certainty, whatever that certainty is, is better than what we have had over the last few months.
‘British business has been very clear that No Deal will cause severe damage.’
ITV said overall advertising revenue edged up by 1 per cent in 2018 to £1.8billion. Non-advertising revenue, mainly from its studios arm, rose 5 per cent to nearly £2billion.
Top shows included dramas Endeavour and Vera, as well as reality TV shows such as Love Island and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
I’m a Celebrity averaged 11.8m viewers, while Love Island’s average was 4m.