LONDON (Reuters) -British broadcaster ITV said on Friday its new on-demand platform ITVX drew strong demand in its first month and was well received by advertisers, a positive update which should provide relief to investors fretting over advertising revenues.
ITVX, a free, ad-funded service, was launched on Dec. 8 and replaced other platforms ITV Hub, ITV Hub+ and BritBox UK.
ITV said that ITVX lifted streaming hours by 55% in its first month of service compared to the same period last year, and while demand was helped by the soccer World Cup in December, excluding it, streaming was still up 29% year-on-year.
Shares in ITV rose 2.7% to 935 pence in morning deals on the strong launch figures.
The broadcaster's aim is for ITVX to double ITV's digital revenue to at least 750 million pounds ($917.78 million) by 2026. But back in March when ITV announced plans for its launch, ITV shares plunged as investors baulked at the new service's 160 million pound content budget.
More widely fears over advertising spend have also caused concern recently, after newspaper publisher Reach said on Wednesday its print advertising revenue slumped about 20% in the final quarter of last year.
But ITV's Chief Executive Carolyn McCall said in a statement on Friday that ITVX had "landed really well" with advertisers, who liked its increased scale and reach compared to the previous offering.
Citi analysts said it was significant that there was no commentary on Friday on ITV's financial guidance suggesting advertising revenues were on track.
"This would have been an ideal point to update the market. That there is no update should assuage concerns about risk to fourth quarter forecasts," they said.
($1 = 0.8172 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Farouq Suleiman and Susan Fenton)