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Brexit and Coronavirus add to ITV uncertainty, ‘majority’ of BritBox free sign-ups converting to pay

UK commercial broadcaster ITV saw its revenues rise last year by 3%  to £3.308 billion (€3.805 billion) but advertising revenues were down 1.5% – although that figure was an improvement on the company’s previous guidance.

ITV is forecasting growth of 2% in Q1, with ad revenues likely to be down 10% in April. The company said that it had already seen an impact from travel advertising deferments relating to the Coronavirus.

Regarding the impact of Coronavirus more generally, ITV said I was “too difficult” to assess the impact at this stage.

The company said it aimed to deliver double-digit growth in online and direct-to-consumer as well as delivering limited revenue growth from production arm ITV Studios this year despite uncertainty caused by factors including the virus and Brexit.

ITV has meanwhile claimed that “the majority” of those who have signed up to its BritBox streaming JV with the BBC are converting to paying customers once their free trial period expires.

An analysis by Oliver & Ohlbaum has found estimated that  about 380,000 subscribers had signed up for the service four months after launch. The firm says thyat 560,000 have tried the servicebut won’t be subscribing, while 100,000 have already cancelled their paid subscriptions.

The commercial broadcaster says that the SVOD offering is now available on 10 platforms in the UK, making it available to 15 million TV screens.

This number is set to expand to 20 million in the spring after a distribution partnership with EE goes live and BritBbox becomes available on YouView and all Freeview Play devices.

ITV said that BritBox lost £21 million last year, with losses expected to be in the range of £55-60 million this year.

ITV said that its other SVOD platforms are performing well, with ITV Hub+ now counting over 400,000 subscribers, up 50% year-on-year. The BritBox JV with BBC Studios in the US has already announced that it now has over one million subscribers.

BritBox is to launch in Australia later this year and ITV “will work to identify other possible international markets” for the service, the company said.

ITV said it would ramp up its addressable advertising activity this month through its Planet V advanced programmable advertising platform, built with Amobee, the ad tech company with which ITV signed an exclusive UK and Ireland licensing agreement last year. The broadcaster said that a strong VOD offering was key to maximising the addressable advertising opportunity. It said this would enable advertisers “to buy ITV Hub inventory seamlessly and cost effectively, build their own audiences, add their own data and monitor their own campaigns”.

ITV has meanwhile named Rhys McLachlan as director of advanced advertising. McLachlan was previously Head of Global TV Strategy at Amobee.

McLachlan will report to Kelly Williams, ITV’s managing director of commercial. He will be responsible for delivering ITV’s advanced advertising capabilities, specifically the development of Planet V as well as partnerships with the key digital and broadcasting platforms.

Tags: Australia, Britbox, ITV, UK