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STV sees advertising trends improvement, continues with production despite lockdowns

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STV Group PLC (LON:STVG) said advertising trends have improved in the last few months while it continues producing programmes despite the new government measures.

Total advertising revenue (TAR) in the third quarter dropped 4%, with July down 7%, August up 1% and September down 5%.

October improved further to a 2% dip, with revenues seeing a step up in the important autumn months, even taking account of tough comparators with Rugby World Cup 2019. TAR in the year to date was down 13%.

The Scottish channel recorded its highest TV audience volume growth ever, up 13% in the year to date, while the 19.2% viewing share gain is higher than any other TV channel in Scotland in 2020.

It is still the most popular peaktime channel in the country, with 21.5% share in the year to date.

STV added that production can continue during the English lockdown and through all levels of the new Scottish strategic framework for COVID-19 following the industry’s safety protocols, the TV channel said.

The Studios arm has secured 14 commissions so far in 2020, its highest ever number, including 5 recommissions, while the confirmed pipeline for 2021 amounts to £15-20mln of commissions.

The firm maintained its previous guidance for the division, as the production break earlier in the year hit full-year revenue though the profit impact will be limited.

STV attributed the success to the return of the soaps to their full episode count, a strong drama slate including The Sister and Des.

“Today’s announcement shows the importance of TV advertising to the recovery and how quickly it can rebound, and underpins confidence in the current forecasts,” analysts at house broker Peel Hunt commented.

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