• ITV’s H1 external revenues were up 8% YoY (to £1,679 million) with Studios up 16% (to £927 million) and Media & Entertainment up 4% (to £1,065 million)—ITV suggests that FY 2022 will beat 2019 for revenues. H2 will face some tough 2021 comparators but Q4 will reap the rewards of a winter FIFA World Cup
  • ITVX is to launch in Q4, with the narrative being that it will target commercially desirable lighter ITV viewers, while causing little cannibalisation of the more monetisable linear platform—enticing these viewers seems difficult, especially given that the ITVX interface will be unashamedly average
  • ITV remains “mindful” of macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty, but Carolyn McCall stated that the company has not seen anything that indicates an impact on advertising

With the publication of the Media Bill (expected to include details of the sale of Channel 4) seemingly delayed to at least after the recess (September), privatisation appears to now be on ice.

2021 was another demonstration of Channel 4’s resilience—showing record-breaking revenues, high content spend and encouraging rates of digital transition—setting a credible platform upon which the broadcaster's PSB credentials can be placed.

Some queries remain: Channel 4’s main viewing drivers are ageing, with fewer new shows being commissioned to replace them. Online engagement isn’t a substitute  for declining linear viewing, while digital advertising growth may get harder with more players, such as ITV and the streamers, entering the space in earnest.

This report is free to access.

The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 sets out national pledges to achieve net zero and contain global warming to 1.8°C above its pre-industrial levels— COP27 will buttress pledges, now at risk from the energy crisis, and advance some nations to 2030.

The TMT sector is a leader on net zero in the private sector. Companies that measure their end-to-end carbon footprint throughout their supply chain—as many do in the UK’s TMT sector—can target their GHG emissions.

The TMT sector underpins the UK’s vibrant digital economy that enables hybrid work-from-home (WFH), which reduces fossil fuel use thus heading off both the energy crisis and the climate crisis.

ITV met advertising expectations in Q1, matching the forecast 16% YoY increase in total ad revenue (TAR) (£468 million), while Studios (+23%, £458 million) bolted well above pre-pandemic levels. We assume, however, that Q1 was blessed in terms of the timing of programme deliveries

The amalgamation of ITV's three domestic digital services, ITVX, is on track to launch in Q4, with a bulked-up library, clearer strategy, and new features: perhaps arriving right on time to take on Netflix's ad-supported tier

The proposed Media Bill includes a couple of potential benefits for ITV, such as expanded prominence on connected devices and major online platforms, including on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks, along with the possibility of a remit more aligned with the modern media landscape—however details around execution are currently lacking

ITV is combining its three domestic digital services—ITV Hub, Hub+ and BritBox—into a single product, ITVX, which will have a free and paid tier and see the addition of FAST channels. It will launch in Q4

The Hub and BritBox UK have underwhelmed in their respective markets, hampered by the broadcaster favouring linear revenues and the competitiveness posed by the surfeit of free British content. ITV is looking to change this direction, with shifts in content windowing and some additional content spend

Total external revenues were up 24% YoY in 2021 (and up 4% on 2019) to £3,450 million, driven by the highest advertising revenue on record, however Studios has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, with both revenues (£1,760 million) and margin (12%) still down on 2019 (£1,830 million and 15%, respectively)

There are just under eight million adults in the UK who only have access to free-to-air television, relying on it as a vital source of entertainment, information and company

These viewers watch much more television, and depend heavily upon the diversity and quality of content delivered by the BBC and other public service broadcasters

Without further support for PSB content in all genres, for all audiences, there is a risk of leaving millions of people out of ever-rarer shared cultural conversations, speeding up feedback loops of viewer decline, and losing the core public value in the ecosystem as a whole

Growth in European content supply may soon reach a tipping point as streamers shift from market grabs to profitability, while resources poured into production from states, consumers and advertisers are declining

The perceived value of long-form video content is dropping as consumers pay smaller amounts for a greater volume of choice, from which they are watching less

However, factors converge to prop up the European independent model: broadcasters’ resilient financing, the public favouring ‘deep’ local fare, talent’s preference for independents, market consolidation and new EU regulation

Ofcom has approved the relaunch of BBC Three as a linear channel in February, and mandated that it will appear within the first 24 slots of electronic programme guides. The 2016 cost-cutting move online saw a loss of about 75% of viewing of BBC Three content

The linear relaunch has the potential to actually lower viewing of the channel's biggest shows. Transmission on BBC One and Two is the overriding driver of reach and discovery of all BBC Three's recent long-form shows, bar perhaps Normal People and RuPaul's Drag Race UK; the new channel will have lower prominence

Giving the channel a home of its own allows it to make the content it really needs to. Currently commissioning has the twin purpose of finding approval with the young whilst also holding up a proportion of the BBC One schedule. These are contradictory intentions

ITV's total advertising revenue (TAR) for the nine months to September was up 30% YoY, and 8% higher than 2019, with the full year expected to be up 24%. Its guidance for 2021 suggests TAR of c. £1.95 billion (up 24%), which would be 10% above 2019, and ITV's highest advertising revenue ever

ITV Hub remains reliant on Love Island and football. Although in the past nine months, ITV's online viewing has risen 39% YoY—adding 138 million hours of online viewing—that uplift is entirely down to the Euros and Love Island

Meanwhile, the Sky Glass launch has revealed a future of collaboration and self-determination for ITV and other PSBs: recent deals with Sky and Virgin have seen ITV trading short-term revenue for deals that maintain the broadcaster's brand in the forefront of the viewer's attention, alongside increasing direct access to them

The government is intent on privatising Channel 4, largely as is, with some potential shifts to the remit and a re-evaluation of the Terms of Trade and the publisher/broadcaster model

We note a valuation range of between £600m and £1.5bn, depending on the scenario and the buyer’s ability to create cost-savings. The counterfactual—a competitor buying Channel 4—could be motivating, while many broadcasters could benefit from the sale given that the government will have to provide the buyer with surety around uncertainties like prominence, licences and gambling/HFSS advertising

Given the potential and incentive for a profit-oriented owner to game Channel 4’s current woolly remit, if the government wants to guarantee a continuation of the benefits C4 presents onscreen and to the economy, much consideration need be placed on making the obligations more quantifiable and trackable