ITV's advertising revenue has that X Factor

THE X Factor and the World Cup helped ITV's advertising revenue bounce back in the third quarter.

The broadcaster said, however, that it is cautious about the outlook for 2011 and expects advertising revenue growth to slow to 10 per cent this quarter, after a 16 per cent rebound last quarter.

The UK's biggest commercial free-to-air TV station said yesterday total sales rose 11 per cent to 1.46bn in the first nine months of the year, driven by a strong advertising recovery from a low 2009 base.

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ITV, which under new chief executive Adam Crozier plans to enter the pay-TV market to reduce its overwhelming dependence on volatile advertising revenue, made no mention of the possibility of reinstating a dividend, as some had expected.

"The television advertising market has continued to recover strongly. However, this does not disguise the significant challenges ITV faces," Mr Crozier said in a statement.

"The economic outlook for 2011 is uncertain and we continue to plan on a cautious basis."

ITV's audience share of commercial impacts, which excludes the BBC fell 1 per cent to 39.3 per cent in the year to November 6 despite hit shows including Simon Cowell's X Factor and Coronation Street.

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Flagship channel ITV1's SOCI fell 5 per cent to 26.8 per cent, but the group compensated to a large extent with its other, digital channels, which include Men and Motors and GMTV.

ITV shares fell more than 4 per cent in early trading but recovered to close at XXX.

Analysts said the third-quarter result was stronger than they had expected and that the caution on 2011 was healthy. UBS lifted its target to 84 pence from 72 pence and kept its 'buy' recommendation.

Scottish broadcast and media group STV has also signalled a strong end to the year.

ITV shares have risen 36 per cent this year, outperforming the European media index by 27 per cent, thanks to the company's high gearing to the wider economic recovery.

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