As ITV celebrates its half-year figures, we have a cautious look around to build a bigger picture
You can see all of ITV’s results and their analysis / statements on their corporate site. We won’t just cut and paste, but will give their top level conclusions:
A strong financial performance in the first half of 2021
ITV Studios are still producing top drama, though Covid restrictions are still in operation
Advertising has rebounded strongly
Viewing figures are subject to a number of competing trends, one of which is a reduction due to moving out of lockdown.
If you’d like to dive deeper into the data, we suggest their presentation slides as a good starting point.
What does this tell us?
There’s a lot to analyse, but a helicopter view suggests the following narrative:
Financial performance is improved as advertising rebounds — this is clearly a business drive for success
Viewing figures have dipped in a number of areas — this clearly is less directly coupled to success
Here’s the nutshell in our view: while advertisers like a target audience, lockdown didn’t make a difference as advertisers lost confidence. This tells us a lot about the ability of the business model (including advertisers) to respond, As lockdown started we had a number of adverts already made, scheduled and paid for, but longer term, a large number of UK business had no effective presence (remember the first part of lockdown brought a lot of consumer facing businesses to a halt). The businesses that operated (eg supermarkets) were focussed on safety. People weren’t shopping for luxuries. Nobody was going on a cruse any time in 2020 (we simplify). Come mid-2021 and confidence is back up; ITV can (for now) afford to drop viewers back if it’s income from advertising returns.
This is in sharp contrast to the BBC (never mind streamers) whose incomes is fixed in the short to medium term (and streamers just want viewers). Context is everything and it’s a lesson to observers such as us, to look at the business drivers as well as the environment.
So what else is ITV up to?
There’s coverage of their More Than TV Strategy, which seems cover ITV Studios (make and sell programmes, don’t just broadcast) and moves into steaming. Deadline presented an interesting angle form their coverage of the investor briefing call. It seems rumours ITV may be looking to by BT Sport are not going to materialise (who does that leave — Amazon? Sky who already has Sport of its own?) and their focus is on balance sheet not acquisition.
They did evade a question about possible purchase of Channel 4, should the government move that way after their review. This is one topic are keeping an eye on, and as ever we’ll keep you posted.