STV has reported operating profits up 10% despite flat advertising revenue.
The Glasgow-based media company increased its earnings from broadcasting and digital during a first half when its audience share reached its highest since 2009 at 18.7%.
That was helped by shows such as Britain’s Got Talent, The Chase, Manhunt, Cheat and The Bay.
The Victim, made by STV Productions for the BBC, achieved the highest drama catch-up ratings ever, more than doubling its overnight audience to 6.5 million. It has been sold to over 30 countries. A second drama for the BBC, Elizabeth is Missing, is in production.
Total advertising revenue was down 0.6% to £48.8 million, with lower national income offset by 19% growth in digital and 19% growth in regional advertising.
Digital and regional revenues now account for 27% of total advertising revenue, up from 21% in 2017.
The company’s decline in total revenue by 5% to £54.9 million, was put down mainly to investment in STV Productions and closure of STV2.
STV Productions made an increased operating loss of £1.7 million but this is expected to substantially reverse in the second half as news series are delivered, including work from Primal Media which was bought in July.
Chief executive Simon Pitts said: “An operating profit increase of 10% when national advertising revenues are down supports the decisions we took to reposition the Group for profitable growth, focusing on STV’s regional strengths and the exciting growth potential offered by our digital and production businesses.
“In the first half of 2019 we have enjoyed the best all time viewing share on STV since 2009 and our total advertising revenue has outperformed the wider TV market, driven by continued growth in digital and regional advertising and by the increasing success of the STV Growth Fund which has attracted over 100 new Scottish advertisers to television since launch.”
He added: “Although current political uncertainty around Brexit will continue to impact total national advertising revenue in the second half, we expect further growth in digital and regional revenue and an improved performance from STV Productions, including a new quiz format, The Cash Machine, the first commissions from newly acquired Primal Media, and a new drama for BBC1, Elizabeth is Missing.
“We also have an exciting programming line-up to look forward to on STV in the second half of the year, with exclusive coverage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, new dramas like A Confession and Sanditon, and entertainment juggernauts like Britain’s Got Talent The Champions and I’m a Celebrity helping to drive viewing on screen and online.”