ITV Studios, the production and distribution arm of UK comcaster ITV, increased its sales to streamers by 84% over the first half of 2021, according to the company’s first half of the year report, published today.
"Our H1 results demonstrate that ITV is emerging from the worst effects of the pandemic. We've continued to implement our key strategic priorities and have further strengthened the business. Total external revenue was up 27% driven by 26% growth in ITV Studios revenue and a 29% increase in total advertising revenue within which total video on demand advertising was up 55%,” said Carolyn McCall, Chief Executive of ITV.
"We are now a more flexible, more efficient and more digital business. We have successfully completed the first phase of our ‘More Than TV’ strategy and look forward to building on this platform to accelerate our transformation to a digitally led media and entertainment company,” she added.
At the same time, the company assured that it is on track to double its revenue from streaming platforms this year, as compared to 2020, with the studio working on both scripted and unscripted productions. However, the report said that producing so many content hours for streamers does not come without drawbacks: “Whilst diversifying our customer base with OTTs is extremely important for ITV Studios, producing more content for, and distributing more content to OTT platforms will impact our working capital going forward due to the upfront cash requirements and the extended payment profile from the OTTs. In addition, it limits the ability for us to maximize margins on high-value scripted titles as the OTT platforms invariably want worldwide rights for original commissions".
The group also revealed that ITV and BBC joint-venture streamer BritBox has grown by more than 10% in the UK over the period up to June 30, to 555.000 subscriptions, with the report pointing to its “exciting pipeline of original content in H2 and 2022” with upcoming originals. The platform is reportedly performing strongly in the United States, Canada and Australia with 2 million total subscriptions, up around 18%, and a South Africa launch coming next month.
"We are optimistic about the future, despite the ongoing pandemic risk on our advertising and ITV Studios revenues. We know that the dividend is important to our shareholders and we intend to re-commence a progressive dividend policy based on a notional dividend of 5p per share which we expect to grow over time. The first dividend under the new policy would be a final dividend of 3.3p per share proposed at the full year results in respect of 2021," McCall concluded.