STV advertising recovery ‘ahead of expectations’

STV CEO Simon Pitts

Glasgow-based media firm STV Group plc said on Wednesday its advertising recovery is “ahead of expectations” but warned that its short-term outlook is “still uncertain due to Covid-19.”

In a trading update, STV said it recorded its “highest TV audience volume growth ever, +13% from January to October, with growth continuing into the autumn (+16% in September, +10% in October).”

STV added: “In Digital, STV Player continues to be the fastest growing broadcaster video on demand service in the UK, with online viewing up 82% from January to October.”

On advertising, STV said: “Advertising recovery ahead of expectations, with Q3 total advertising revenue -4% and October -2%.”

On its studios, STV said: “STV Studios has maintained its creative and commercial momentum with 14 commissions so far in 2020, its highest ever number, including 5 recommissions …

“The UK and Scottish governments have confirmed that TV production can continue during the English lockdown and through all levels of the new Scottish strategic framework for Covid-19.

“All STV programmes are currently still in production under the industry’s Covid safety protocols which are working well …

“Our previous guidance for Studios is maintained: the production hiatus earlier in the year has impacted 2020 revenue but the profit impact will be limited.

“For 2021, Studios has £15-20m of commissions already secured as the benefits of our strengthened creative pipeline start to come through.”

STV chief executive Simon Pitts said: “2020 has underscored both the loyalty of our viewers and the resilience of our business. 

“We’ve seen record growth in audiences across the whole of 2020 so far, not just during lockdown, with TV viewing up 13% and online viewing up 82%. 

“Despite the ongoing challenges around Covid-19, I’m encouraged that the advertising market has recovered strongly across the summer and autumn, demonstrating the enduring power of television and our ability to come through further uncertainty with confidence.

“In particular, STV-controlled Scottish advertising and digital advertising have returned to year on year growth during the autumn, fuelled by our Growth Fund and the excellent performance of our streaming service STV Player.

“We remain confident in our prospects for growth, and look forward to finishing the year strongly on screen with November traditionally our biggest month of the year thanks to the return of I’m a Celebrity; while in STV Studios our 14 new commissions so far this year means that 2021 promises to be our most successful year yet.”