STV shares up as record viewing figures beat BBC1

STV CEO Simon Pitts

Shares of Glasgow-based media firm STV Group plc rose about 3% on Thursday after it published a trading update ahead of its Annual General Meeting.

The company said: “… advertising trends continue to improve in 2021, with STV’s January-April total advertising revenue (TAR) now +10%, ahead of previous guidance of +7-9%.”

STV reported that “record viewing performance has continued into 2021, with TV viewing up 12% in Q1 and STV now the most watched TV channel in Scotland, ahead of BBC1 in both peak time and across the whole day, for the first time since 2006.”

STV Group shares have risen about 50% over the past 12 months to give the firm a current stock market value of almost £170 million.

The firm said its online viewing was up 73% in the first quarter and streams up 98%, with the STV Player “the fastest growing broadcaster streaming service in the UK and STV Player-only content making up 40% of all streams so far this year.”

In its outlook, STV Group said it “expects May TAR to be up 65-80% as the advertising recovery continues, resulting in January – May TAR of +15-20%.”

It said this would mean advertising revenue for the first five months of 2021 was broadly in line with the same period in 2019.

“STV also expects a strong commercial and viewing performance in June as the economy continues to reopen, supported by a high-quality programme schedule on TV and online, including the start of the delayed Euro 2020 football championships where STV will broadcast over 20 live and exclusive matches featuring both Scotland and England,” said the Glasgow company.

STV Studios also remains on track to deliver its most successful year yet, with revenues of £20-25 million already secured for 2021.

“STV Studios is currently in production on 15 series for 11 different networks, including new drama series Screw and new factual entertainment format Murder Island, both for Channel 4.

“Last month STV Studios confirmed a further drama series commission, Blue Lights, by creative partner Two Cities Television, for BBC1.”

STV confirmed that, as planned, Margaret Ford will now step down as chair after eight years and be replaced by Paul Reynolds.

STV CEO Simon Pitts said: “It’s still relatively early days in the economic recovery but I’m encouraged by the strong start we’ve made to 2021, with advertising for the first 5 months of the year expected to return to 2019 levels and our excellent digital and production growth continuing.

“We’re setting more viewing records on screen and online, with TV viewing up 12% and STV Player viewing up 73% in Q1, the fastest growth of any UK broadcaster.

“STV-controlled Scottish advertising and digital advertising both continue to outperform the wider market, driven by our advertising Growth Fund and the success of our streaming service, STV Player, following its recent launch across the whole of the UK.

“We have more to look forward to in 2021, with STV Studios on track to deliver its most successful year yet following a record 19 new commissions last year, as well as the exciting prospect of the delayed Euro 2020 football championships, with over 20 games live and exclusive on STV including both Scotland and England.”