ITV Is "A Consolidator," Not Takeover Target, CEO Says
Adam Crozier also discusses why he wants to extend the run of 'X Factor,' touts SVOD and over-the-top opportunities and lauds the health of ITV Studios, saying it is growing faster than other content companies.
U.K. TV giant ITV continues to see itself as a consolidator instead of a takeover target, CEO Adam Crozier said Wednesday.
"I really do not think of us as a takeover target at all," he said on an earnings conference call. "Our business is growing very fast. If anything, we are a consolidator of companies."
He added: "Given our increasing scale and volume as a company, I think that is the best form of defense, just to keep doing what we are doing."
There has been recurring talk about a possible acquisition of ITV by a U.S. company since John Malone's Liberty Global first bought a stake in ITV. Some have suggested that Liberty Global or Discovery Communications, in which Malone also owns a stake, could look at buying control of ITV.
In the fall, Crozier had said ITV already has a lot of U.S. shareholders, and they care most about management running "a successful company." Back then, he also reiterated past comments that "consolidation is done by us," and that a sale was not management's goal.
Discussing the ITV Studios production arm, he said it was looking very health. "We got a really strong pipeline of programs coming through," he said. "I can’t think of another content company that is growing at the rate that we are, 19 percent growth in the U.K., 36 percent in the U.S., 124 percent in rest of world." The company is very strong in the key export markets of the U.S., U.K. and Holland, he added, highlighting "good organic growth," with all acquisitions "performing well."
The traditional ITV Studios business is growing by around 5 percent, acquired company Leftfield is growing at around 9 percent and Talpa by around 13 percent, said Crozier. He concluded: "We also think there are more acquisition opportunities out there for us and more partnership opportunities, so I think overall that business is growing very well." Plus, demand across the world from traditional networks, as well as SVOD and other players is "increasingly strong," he added.
ITV is looking to next use its content assets to “start to really invest in pay and distribution opportunities,” both in the SVOD, over-the-top and pay channels fields, both in the U.K. internationally, Crozier said later. That will further diversify revenue beyond exposure to the U.K. advertising market, he explained.
Asked about the future of The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent on ITV, which is looking at extending their runs on its flagship channel beyond this year, Crozier said he is a big fan and they are good for and synonymous with ITV. He also remains "a big supporter of Simon Cowell, what he's trying to do with the shows," he said. While asserting that he wouldn't negotiate a new deal publicly, Crozier said, "I am sure we will sort out the right kind of deal." He added, "All we want is for them to be a success."