ITV has revealed that its ad revenue dropped by 42% during April as a result of the COVID-19 crisis

The broadcaster gave an update on its first quarter performance for 2020 with the coronavirus taking a heavy toll on ad revenue “across most advertising categories”.

Carolyn McCall, ITV Chief Executive, said: “ITV has taken swift and decisive action to manage and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, by focusing on our people and their safety, and by continuing to reduce costs and tightly manage our cashflow and liquidity.   We are also ensuring that we continue to inform and entertain our viewers and stay close to our advertisers.  Everyone at ITV has responded extremely well to the challenges we are facing.  We are now very focused on emerging from this crisis in a strong position, continuing to offer advertisers effective marketing opportunities and making preparations to restart productions safely.”

For the three months to 31 March total external revenue was down 7%. ITV Studios revenue was down 11% in the same period with the production wing pausing the majority of productions globally as a result of the restrictions on working practices.

The update stated that on the positive side, ITV Studios Global Distribution is “seeing good demand for library content internationally” and streaming service Britbox is showing “good growth.”  Interactive revenues are “growing well with increased demand for ITV’s competitions.”

ITV stated that it plans to reduce overhead costs by £60m in 2020 with £30m previously announced with a further £30m of savings identified including the delay in non-business critical investments and “at least £100m reduction in the programme budget to around £1bn, as previously guided.”

ITV has already furloughed 15% of its UK workforce, the majority of whom work in ITV Studios, and a recruitment and salary freeze is in operation along with cuts to Plc Board and Management Board level remuneration.”

ITV has also made savings by withdrawing the 2019 final dividend and agreed with pension trustees and tax authorities the delay of “at least £150m of payments”  into 2021.

The statement said that the “outlook remains uncertain and is changing rapidly and therefore we are not giving guidance for Q2 or for the remainder of the year.”

Jon Creamer