ITV forecasts 10% fall in April ad revenue due to coronavirus

Coronation Street: ITV show
Coronation Street: ITV show

Broadcaster is seeing impact from 'travel advertising deferments' in March and April.

ITV expects total ad revenue to be down by as much as 10% in April as travel brands have been delaying their advertising because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The broadcaster, which released its full-year results for 2019 this morning (Thursday), explained that it is seeing an impact from "travel advertising deferments" in March and April.

The report added: "At this stage, it is too difficult to assess the further implications of the coronavirus, but we continue to monitor the situation closely."

On a call to journalists this morning, Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV's chief executive, said there was no softening in any other markets, apart from the impact from James Bond film No Time to Die, which has been pushed back to November. 

She added that ITV expects government ads around coronavirus to "balance that off" as she expects "quite a large campaign in terms of public awareness".

ITV, which broadcasts shows including Coronation Street and This Morning, forecasts ad revenue to be up 2% over the first three months of 2020, with January down 1%, February up 8% and March up 1%.

Ad revenue for 2019 declined 1.5% to £1.77bn from £1.8bn in 2018 – something that ITV said is "better than previously guided".

Broadcast revenue fell 2% but there was 21% growth in online advertising. McCall said the growth in sponsorship and creative partnerships "more than offset the decline in spot advertising revenues".

Total revenue grew 3% to £3.3bn compared with £3.2bn in 2018. McCall said this was driven by 7% growth in total non-advertising revenue "as we continue to diversify the business".

ITV Studios, which has produced programmes including The Voice and Love Island, grew revenue by 9%, driven by its US and international business.

Direct-to-consumer revenue was also up 4% – a performance that McCall attributed to ITV Hub+, the broadcaster’s advertising-free video-on-demand platform.

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