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ITV expects 2021 advertising revenue to hit record high

·2-min read

By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) - ITV, Britain's biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, expects strong demand from the recovering economy to drive advertising revenue to a record high this year, it said on Wednesday.

The company, which made "Vigil", "Endeavour" and "Love Island", said both its broadcasting and production businesses had recovered from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue at both divisions in the nine months to Sept. 30 exceeded levels for the same period last year and in pre-pandemic 2019.

ITV reported overall revenue for the nine months to Sept. 30 of 2.38 billion pounds ($3.2 billion), up 28% year on year.

Chief Executive Carolyn McCall described the performance as an "outstanding" nine months "by any standards".

Shares in the company jumped as much as 10% in early trade to a 12-week high of 121 pence.

The company said it expects advertising revenue to grow by 24% this year, helped by a buoyant market and the ability to deliver millions of viewers on its main channels and targeted audiences on video on demand.

McCall has focused on improving the broadcaster's video-on-demand offer, which had fallen short of standards set by streaming specialists such as Netflix.

She said that a redesigned ITV hub resulted in a 22% increase in monthly active users to 9.6 million and a 39% rise in advertising revenue on the platform.

While competing with ITV for viewers' attention, streaming services are also buyers of productions by ITV Studios.

The company said it expects continued strong revenue growth from streaming platforms, led by shows such as "Snowpiercer" for Netflix.

On ITV's own channels, the European soccer championship finals, "Love Island" and dramas such as "Manhunt: The Night Stalker" and "Vera" delivered strong ratings, helping the broadcaster's channels lift their share of British viewers to 22.5% from 22.2%.

($1 = 0.7414 pounds)

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Kate Holton and David Goodman)

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