And in a gesture off gratitude to his long-suffering shareholders, a special one-off dividend of £156m is to be paid, equating to 4p per share. ITV’s share price, which has risen 50% in the past six months, rose a further 1% on the news.
In best soap opera traditions, it’s all a long way from how things looked a few years back for the channel that brings us classic shows like Coronation Street, Downton Abbey and, er, Britain’s Got Talent. The post-2008 collapse in ad revenues coupled with the rise of online entertainment alternatives made a stately-home sized hole in the firm’s business model, and had shareholders needing more than a swift half in the Rovers Return to restore their spirits.
Crucial to Crozier’s rescue recipe has been a shift towards programme production and online activities, in order to lessen reliance on pure ad revenues, and it seems to be paying off. None advertising revenues exceeded £1bn for the first time, including £712m from its production business ITV Studios, which makes shows like Come Dine With Me and Dancing on Ice. Commenting on the results, Crozier said ITV was becoming a ‘Stronger and more balanced business.’
The results have gone down well in the City, exceeding most analysts’ expectations and getting the year off the a flying start. But with TV ad revenues continuing to look flat, will ITV be able to keep up? Tune in next week for the latest gripping instalment…