Production arm boosts ITV profits
Broadcaster ITV has posted higher profits as the resurgence of its Studios business helped overcome a flat advertising market.
In the third year of a five-year turnaround plan, chief executive Adam Crozier said ITV was becoming a "stronger and more balanced business", with more than £1 billion in non-advertising revenues last year.
Much of this has come from its production arm, which grew revenues by £100 million to £712 million last year following the success of programmes such as Titanic and Vera for ITV and Shetland for the BBC.
Across the business, revenues rose 3% to £2.2 billion in 2012 with adjusted profits ahead 17% to £464 million.
ITV shares have surged to a five-year high in recent weeks and were up another 1% today after the company said it would pay a special dividend worth £156 million to shareholders.
During 2012, ITV said it broadcast the highest-rating drama in Downton Abbey, the most-watched soap in Coronation Street and in Britain's Got Talent, the highest-rating entertainment show.
Its broadcast and online division grew revenues by 1% to £1.8 billion last year, with a flat advertising performance slightly ahead of the rest of the market.
ITV's share of viewing was down 3% during a year in which events such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics were largely broadcast on the BBC.
The company said: "Historically, the financial performance of ITV has been largely dependent on the advertising market. Whilst still incredibly important, these results demonstrate that ITV can deliver strong profit growth even in a flat advertising market."
ITV said it had made a strong start to the new year, with net advertising revenues up 5% in the first quarter following an 8% rise in January and a surge in bookings for next month.