UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    -0.63 (-0.01%)
  • FTSE 250

    -29.80 (-0.16%)
  • AIM

    -1.01 (-0.12%)

    -0.0018 (-0.16%)

    -0.0072 (-0.59%)

    -1,039.49 (-6.14%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +0.70 (+0.17%)
  • S&P 500

    +39.95 (+1.06%)
  • DOW

    +321.83 (+1.05%)

    +2.70 (+2.55%)

    +5.60 (+0.31%)
  • NIKKEI 225

    -457.42 (-1.73%)

    -137.10 (-0.62%)
  • DAX

    +29.26 (+0.23%)
  • CAC 40

    +8.20 (+0.14%)

ITV eyes BT Sport tie-up to take on streaming giants

·3-min read

ITV is in talks about striking a partnership deal with BT Sport but has ruled out a full takeover of the pay-TV sports channel.

Its chief executive, Dame Carolyn McCall, said ITV was eyeing a joint venture with BT as she stressed the importance of live sport to its fight against the streaming giants.

The Telegraph revealed in April that ITV was among a string of suitors - including the sports streaming service Dazn - after BT appointed bankers to explore potential partnerships for the channel.

Dame Carolyn said: "We have a good relationship with BT and BT Sport in particular, and we do constantly talk to them about how we might collaborate and cooperate. Those discussions are ongoing.

"We are not in the market for that kind of acquisition. We've been focused on our balance sheet and we still see uncertainty ahead, but collaboration and cooperation with BT Sport, absolutely."

However, she remained tight-lipped about the prospect of merging the Love Island broadcaster with Channel 4 despite ministers privately encouraging ITV to consider a deal.

Dame Carolyn did not comment on the process but said ITV would make its position clear in a submission to the Government's consultation.

"[The Government] will have spoken to a large number of people in the industry about their views on Channel 4, and they will have encouraged all of those participants to put into the consultation," she added.

"We have had a conversation or two about that with DCMS where they have explained their rationale."

Her comments came as the broadcaster said it would resume shareholder payments as an advertising rebound helped ITV "emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic".

Shares rose as much as 4pc before falling almost 3pc to 115.9p despite revealing plans to bring back a 3.3p final dividend at this year's full-year results if the "economy continues to recover".

ITV cancelled last year's dividend after it took a hit when companies slashed their ad budgets to survive the economic tumult from the pandemic.

Revenue rose 27pc to £1.5bn for the six months to the end of June as "advertising rebounded strongly". Pre-tax profits rose from £15m to £133m.

Advertising revenue climbed 29pc over the period, helped by ITV ad sales for June hitting a record high driven by easing restrictions and the popularity of Euro 2020.

However, total viewing was down 6pc in the first half due to fewer people staying inside to watch TV after lockdown rules were lifted.

Viewing on its catch-up service ITV Hub rose 6pc, but growth slowed on its BritBox streaming service to 10pc, with 555,000 subscribers in the UK.

She said the joint venture with the BBC was part of an industry-wide trend where "all of the streamers slowed down" as fewer people worked from home.

Meanwhile, revenues at ITV Studios climbed 31pc to £523m aided by hits such as Unforgotten and Line of Duty. Jed Mercurio's BBC One drama was made by World Productions, which ITV bought in 2017.

Line of Duty - Steffan Hill
Line of Duty - Steffan Hill

Dame Carolyn said the studios business was well-placed to take advantage of the huge demand for content from streaming services and had avoided shutting down productions in response to Covid.

She added that the broadcaster in discussions with ministers about exempting news and daytime TV staff from having self-isolate if they are notified by the NHS track and trace app.

ITV wants to avoid the "pingdemic" from wiping out key public interest services after previously being hit by pandemic-induced delays at ITV Studios.

However, it cautioned that the Government was unlikely to make a decision on ITV's request until next month.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting