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ITV braced for hit as travel firms pull ads due to coronavirus

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ITV has warned that its advertising revenues are being hit by the outbreak of coronavirus as travel companies pull their ads from television. (PA)

ITV has warned that its advertising revenues are being hit by the outbreak of coronavirus as travel companies pull their ads from television. (PA)

ITV has warned that its advertising revenues are being hit by the outbreak of coronavirus as travel companies pull their ads from television. (PA)

ITV has warned that its advertising revenues are being hit by the outbreak of coronavirus as travel companies pull their ads from television.

The broadcaster said it had already felt the pinch this month and was expecting a 10% drop in advertising revenue in April.

The company reported a 1.5% drop in full-year advertising revenue for last year, although that is better than the 2% fall it had previously forecast.

Pre-tax profit fell by 7% to £530m, on revenue of £3.9bn, which was up 3%. ITV said it was too early to tell how big the overall impact of coronavirus would be. It still expects ad revenue to grow by 2% in the first three months of the year. However, this does not include April.

The virus spread around the world after it was first discovered in China late last year.

Almost 100,000 people are now thought to have been infected, with several thousand deaths reported.

On a call with journalists, ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said there were so far no effects on the production of shows.

"We are following all the guidance, as you would expect. We are communicating with our staff every single day," she added.

"There are specific production communications separate to the rest of the company because they do very different work, but so far, no, we haven't had to change anything that we're doing on the production side."

Ms McCall said the company was trying to build a stronger business in an industry that was "changing rapidly".

"Thanks to the hard work of our teams across the business, our full-year results have come in ahead of expectations helped by revenue growth in the second half of the year in ITV Studios, advertising and online," she said.

"We are making good progress in each area of our strategy and our investments in data, technology, online and in streaming will enable ITV to be a sustainable, diversified and structurally sound digital media and entertainment business."

Online viewing is up by 89% so far this year, driven by the success of the Masked Singer and Love Island with internet audiences. ITV also said that BritBox UK was "on plan" after being launched in November last year.

Its US version of the service now has more than one million subscribers, while ITV Hub+ has over 400,000.

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