Downton effect keeps on giving as ITV profits rise 16%

The broadcaster has benefitted from an uplift in ad revenues - although that's partly to do with the Olympics (or absence thereof).

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 01 Dec 2014
It wasn’t long ago that ITV was in the quagmire – when former Royal Mail chief exec Adam Crozier took the reins in 2010, it had only just returned to profit after several years struggling to produce anything more exciting than X-Factor.

Now, with shows like Downton Abbey and Broadchurch, the broadcaster has made its glorious return. Results posted by ITV this morning showed profit before tax in the six months to the end of June rose by 16% to £270m. And it reckons things will continue to look good over the next few months, with a 20% uplift in ad revenues next month, while September will remain broadly flat.

To be fair, part of this is because most advertising revenue this time last year was being channeled into the Olympics. But that’s not the only reason behind ITV’s uplift.

Its acquisitions, which include the £12.5m purchase of Big Talk, the production house behind TV comedies Rev and Black Books, as well as films Attack the Block and Hot Fuzz, have allowed it to focus more on original programming. Thus, profits at its studios arm also rose by 26%, to £63m, while its broadcast and online side rose 7% to £228m.

One interesting point about ITV is that it has all but exited the world of sports broadcasting (although it is still in a bidding war to broadcast the FA Cup). For BT and BSkyB, though, the sports broadcasting territory war has heated up again after BT signed a new sponsorship deal with two Scottish rugby teams.

The four-year deal with Glasgow and Edinburgh rugby teams means the phone company-turned-broadcaster will now have its logo displayed on Sky Sports channels during their coverage of Scottish rugby.

It’s a cunning (/sly) move by BT, after Sky refused to show BT Sports ads on its own sports channels. BT wins this round – although MT can’t imagine it’ll be long before Sky finds a way to get it back.

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