Downton, Corrie and BGT help ITV pay £156m special divi

Three years into a 5 year turnaround, Britain's largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster has posted profits up 6% and is paying shareholders a special £156m dividend.

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 30 Jul 2013
ITV chief exec Adam Crozier (who some may recall was CEO of the Royal Mail for quite a while) can afford to give himself a pat on the back (a box set of hit show Mr Selfridge would seem appropriate) – the channel has made 2012 profits of £348m, up 6%, on revenues up 3% to £2.2bn. 
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…

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