ITV Third-Quarter Ad Revenue Rises 11 Percent

ITV CEO Adam Crozier

The U.K. TV giant posted a 1 percent ad revenue gain for the first nine months of 2013 and 11 percent growth for its ITV Studios content arm.

U.K. TV networks giant ITV on Tuesday posted third-quarter advertising revenue growth of 11 percent, leaving ad revenue up 1 percent for the first nine months of the year.

That exceeded previous guidance. The company had originally predicted net advertising revenue to be flat for the first three quarters of 2013.

Total external revenue rose 6 percent for the nine-month period to $2.68 billion (1.66 billion pounds).

The ITV Studios content production arm continued to grow strongly, ending the first nine months of the year up 11 percent to $895 million (555 million pounds). The firm said most of that was driven by acquisitions and that it expected a "strong" fourth quarter at ITV Studios. "Over the full year, we expect organic growth to be broadly in line with the 5 percent growth delivered in the first half, reflecting a delivery schedule that is weighted to the fourth quarter," ITV said.

Broadcasting and online revenue rose 3 percent for the first nine months. The company's total non-advertising revenue increased 11 percent.

"We continue to make good progress with our strategy of growing and strengthening ITV both creatively and commercially, and all parts of the business are performing well," said CEO Adam Crozier. "Our ongoing investment in ITV Studios continues to bear fruit. We’re confident of a strong performance over the full year -- both organically and from our recent acquisitions -- underpinned by a delivery schedule which this year is weighted to the fourth quarter."  
He also touted that ITV's share of viewing on its main channel is up 3 percent this year, with the total channel portfolio up 4 percent. "This strong viewing performance clearly stands us in good stead for our 2014 advertising agreements," he said. And the CEO said the company was increasing its target for cost savings slightly.

Looking ahead, Crozier said: "ITV is now a stronger and more balanced business, and as we move into 2014, we will continue to see growth across the company. We expect good growth in ITV Studios, primarily driven by our recent acquisitions. The television advertising market is showing signs of improvement, which will benefit the core broadcast business, and we expect to deliver double-digit revenue growth in online, pay and interactive."

Analysts lauded the financial update, with Sanford C. Bernstein's Claudio Aspesi saying it highlighted ITV's "strong performance." UBS analyst Tamsin Garrity said: "Commentary on the outlook could lead to slight upside to consensus 2013 earnings per share."

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