Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

New arrivals help boost TalkSport

Andy Gray and Richard Keys have delivered higher ratings for TalkSport

The controversial hiring of former Sky Sports pair Andy Gray and Richard Keys at TalkSport is paying off after the radio station said it was on course to deliver a boost to full-year revenues.

Mr Keys and Mr Gray - who found themselves at the centre of a sexism row after a series of unguarded remarks were made public - have pulled in more than 100,000 extra listeners a week to TalkSport since they started on the station in February.

TalkSport owner UTV, which is also the ITV licence holder for Northern Ireland, reported flat revenues at its Radio GB division of £25.2 million in the six months to June 30, compared to the previous year when the World Cup was in full swing.

But head of TalkSport Scott Taunton said the station is on target to see full-year revenues growth as he hailed the decision to employ the pair.

Commenting on the hiring of Mr Keys and Mr Gray, Mr Taunton said: "There's no-one who's a football fan who questions their knowledge of the game. They've brought to the station a contact book that we've never had before. Most presenters or reporters can get an interview with Wayne Rooney but they have him in the studio for a whole hour."

TalkSport, with around three million listeners a month, said its investment in enhanced Premier League coverage has also boosted audience numbers and revenues.

UTV is one of the largest companies in Ireland, comprising television, radio and internet divisions. It employs more than 900 staff in the UK and Ireland.

The wider group recorded a 15% increase in pre-tax profits to £10.9 million and revenues broadly flat at £59.1 million. Television advertising revenues were up 4% in the first six months, which outperformed the wider ITV network which was flat, UTV said.

Looking ahead, the company said its third quarter revenue for Radio GB is expected to be 9% higher, with TalkSport up 14% and local radio ahead 2%.

The station is set to receive a boost from the Rugby World Cup in the second half of the year, while the Olympics and European football should ensure 2012 is a strong year.

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