Mar 3, 2022

ITV shares fall as content costs overshadow plans to revamp streaming

ITV is to launch a revamped streaming service in its latest attempt to retain viewers, although an associated jump in costs intensified concerns about the threat deep-pocketed US rivals pose to the UK broadcaster. ITVX, which chief executive Carolyn McCall said would help "Supercharge" the company's streaming offering, will replace its existing domestic online services, ITV Hub and ITV Hub+. The chief executive, who joined from easyJet four years ago, has found some success pushing into digital and also expanding its production arm, ITV Studios, which makes shows for other broadcasters around the world including Line of Duty. Britain's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster said viewers last year watched 15.1bn hours on ITV Hub as well as its linear channels - a decline of 9 per cent from 2020, when lockdown restrictions encouraged more consumers to binge on TV. "They're spending more because they're losing eyeballs," said Sarah Simon, analyst at Berenberg. Despite the decline in viewers, a rebound in advertising from the depths of the pandemic and sales of content to other broadcasters helped ITV's annual revenues rise from £2.78bn to a record £3.45bn. Pre-tax profits improved from £325mn to £480mn and the board proposed a final dividend of 3.3p a share.

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