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Britain poised for “summer of love” as ad market booms

Simon English
Carolyn McCall  (AFP via Getty Images)
Carolyn McCall (AFP via Getty Images)

BRITAIN looks set for a summer of love, as the return of live music, pubs and football sees consumer spending rocket and companies splurge on advertising as they chase open wallets.

Today ITV added to the growing sense of optimism as it predicted ad spending will be up 85% in May and 90% in June compared to a year ago, a result for all businesses that rely on adverts to survive.

That ad boom comes even before the return of Love Island and the Euro football championships, delayed from last summer.

Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “We have made a good start to 2021 with total revenue and total viewing both up, despite the continuing impact of the pandemic. We finished the quarter strongly with the substantial majority of our shows back in production and a recovery in the advertising market.”

Some analysts are talking of a “summer of love” as fans flock back to football, festivals and music concerts.

She added: “We are encouraged by the UK roadmap out of lockdown and remain cautiously optimistic about the year ahead.”

ITV parted company with Piers Morgan earlier this year following remarks about Meghan Markle.

The return of Saturday Night Takeaway and Unforgotten helped it get past that controversy.

Today’s figures tally with record revenues at Google and strong words from ad giant WPP indicating that clients are poised to spend heavily in the next few months.

ITV shares were up 1p to 126p today, but they have doubled since last September, leading the business valued at £5 billion and perhaps on track for a return to the FTSE 100.

Much of the City still regards the shares as a “buy”.

Richard Hunter at interactive investor said: “The clouds are clearing for ITV as advertising revenues begin to rebuild. Despite the pressures on cashflow, ITV remains in a relatively comfortable position. Although net debt has increased by 2%, the company’s access to liquidity of £1.4 billion is a significant safety net as its fortunes improve and the anticipated cost savings are on track.”

The figures suggest that talk that ITV will be swamped by Amazon and Netflix may be overdone. It is reducing its reliance on ads and boosting its content offering. Total revenue in the first quarter was up slightly to £709 million.

City leisure analysts say there is a likely boom in everything from music to spectator sport to dating as lockdown and social distancing measures end.

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