ITV Chief Steadies Ship, Charts New Course

Commercial broadcaster ITV has had a strong start to the year, reporting revenues of £1.03bn for the first six months of 2011 and pre tax profits of £204 million – up 90% on the previous year”s H1. The recovery has led some market analysts to suggest ITV is starting to look like a takeover target again.

The increase, which was better than expected, is mainly down to a bounceback in the advertising market – though CEO Adam Crozier said ITV will push on with its plan to diversify revenues by introducing a micropayments system to its online ITV player in the New Year.

At that point, says Crozier, “we can test what viewers are willing to pay for, what works and what doesn’;t work.” He also confirmed that ITV was still working with the BBC, C4, Five, BT TalkTalk and Arqiva and their YouView online TV project, due to go live in 2012.

In terms of paid-for content, it”s most likely to focus on spin-off content from flagship brands, such as Coronation Street webisodes, or exclusive pay-windows (Downton Abbey preview and extras linked to an exclusive competition, for example).

Despite the bounceback in ad revenues, Crozier added that ITV remained cautious about prospects. In terms of programming, he said ITV1”s programme budget is now around £800m a year and that there were 68 ITV commissions in H1.

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