STV reported advertising ahead of expectations but warns the future picture is still uncertain because of Covid-19



STV reported advertising ahead of expectations but warned that the short-term outlook was still uncertain due to Covid-19.

The Glasgow-based broadcaster said in a trading update that its viewing figures were excellent.

In the 10 months up to the end of October, it said that Q3 advertising revenue was minus four per cent, while in October it was minus two per cent.

It said that advertising it controlled was outperforming, with regional advertising up eight per cent and video on demand advertising up 10% in Q3.

The broadcaster said STV Studios had good commissioning momentum in Studios, with revenue guidance maintained for a strong 2021.

It reported that advertising trends have improved materially over Q3 and the start of Q4.

Q3 total advertising revenue was minus four per cent, with July minus seven per cent, August plus one per cent and September minus five per cent.

October improved further to minus two per cent, with revenues seeing a meaningful step up in the important autumn months, even taking account of tough comparators with Rugby World Cup 2019. Total advertising revenue January to October stands at minus 13%.

Within total advertising revenue, STV-controlled advertising has continued to outperform, with regional advertising plus 8% in Q3 and showing year on year growth every month since July.

The company said that between April and October, STV’s Growth Fund attracted 71 new Scottish advertisers.

In the year to date January to October regional advertising is minus six per cent.

Video on demand (VOD) advertising was plus 10% in Q3 and returned to growth in September and October. In the year to date from January to October VOD advertising is plus 12%.

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The broadcaster said it has experienced the highest TV audience volume ever plus 13% from January to October with growth continuing into the autumn – September was up 16% and October up 10%.

Ratings success was driven by the return of the ‘soaps’ to their full episode count, a strong drama slate including The Sister and Des (STV’s biggest new drama launch in 18 years).

It said STV News at Six cemented its position as Scotland’s best watched news programme with audiences plus 30% year to date and averaging 554,000 viewers and a 36% viewing share in October, its best performing month ever.

In digital, STV Player continues to be the fastest growing broadcaster video on demand service in the UK, with online viewing up 82% from January to October (VOD viewing plus 87%, live simulcast viewing plus 71%).

In September, Des, a drama on serial killer Dennis Nilsen starring David Tennant, became the best performing drama on the Player ever with 1.4 million streams, and was the best watched drama for 16-34s this year across all channels.

Nearly half of 16-34 viewing for Des in Scotland was via the STV Player.

It said that a successful digital content strategy saw STV Player-exclusive programming accounting for 33% of all digital viewing January to October, up from 15% at the start of 2020 and 6% in 2019, as well as 5 of the 10 most popular programmes on the Player so far this year.

It reported that STV Studios has “maintained its creative and commercial momentum with 14 commissions so far in 2020, its highest ever number, including five recommissions.”

The UK and Scottish governments have confirmed that TV production can continue during the English lockdown and through all levels of the new Scottish strategic framework for Covid-19.

The broadcaster said that All STV programmes were currently still in production under the industry’s Covid safety protocols which were working well.

STV chief executive Simon Pitts said: “2020 has underscored both the loyalty of our viewers and the resilience of our business.

“We’ve seen record growth in audiences across the whole of 2020 so far, not just during lockdown, with TV viewing up 13% and online viewing up 82%.”

He added: “We remain confident in our prospects for growth, and look forward to finishing the year strongly on screen with November traditionally our biggest month of the year thanks to the return of I’m a Celebrity ; while in STV Studios our 14 new commissions so far this year means that 2021 promises to be our most successful year yet.”



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