Glasgow-based media firm STV Group plc said on Thursday its 2018 revenue increased 8% to £125.9 million, “reflecting particularly strong growth in regional advertising revenue, digital revenue and production revenue.”
Speculation continues that ITV may bid for STV.
AIM-listed activist fund Crystal Amber Fund, STV Group’s largest shareholder, has been quoted as saying a bid from ITV is likely.
STV is proposing a full year dividend payment of 20p per share, up 18%.
STV’s statutory pre-tax profit for 2018 fell to £1.9 million from £13.9 million the previous year — but pre-tax profit would have been £19 million after stripping out a number of one-off costs.
STV Group CEO Simon Pitts, a former ITV executive, said: “The results announced today show encouraging underlying growth across all of our key business areas in 2018.
“Total advertising revenue is up 4% on the back of STV’s strongest viewing performance in a decade.
“All age groups watched more STV in 2018, including the younger 16-34 audience, and online viewing via STV Player also gave us a significant boost fuelled by the football World Cup, the soaps, big entertainment shows like I’m a Celebrity and drama boxsets.
“2018 was a year of significant change and progress at STV with a new team and organisation now fully in place and excellent early progress made with the implementation of our strategic growth plan.
“We have signed valuable, long-term partnerships with Virgin Media and Sky, improved the user experience and content of the STV Player, and now launched a new subscription service, STV Player+, to enter the fast-growing pay TV market for the first time.
“In programming, we are producing popular, peak-time series for the UK’s biggest broadcasters, have invested in our news operation and agreed new talent partnerships to strengthen our creative pipeline. Our exciting new Scottish drama series, The Victim, will hit screens shortly on BBC1.
“In advertising, our STV Growth Fund has got off to the best possible start with over 100 Scottish businesses already signed up, driving a 24% increase in regional ad revenues, and I’m delighted to be announcing a doubling of the fund to £10m of airtime.
“2019 has also started well, with strong digital and regional growth off-setting the more cautious national advertising market.”