STV CEO to leave for ‘new job in 2025’ as profits fall

Simon Pitts

Glasgow-based media firm STV Group said its CEO Simon Pitts “has informed the board of his decision to step down from his role as chief executive officer over the next twelve months to take up a new appointment beginning in Q1 2025.”

The news came as STV published 2023 results showing total revenue up 22% to £168.4 million but adjusted group operating profit down 22% to £20.1 million “impacted by linear advertising revenue and cost inflation and related to broader UK macro uncertainty.”

Total advertising revenue fell 12% to £97.3 million.

STV shares fell about 2%. For the past 12 months, the shares are down about 40%, reducing STV’s stock market value to about £89 million.

Full year dividend will be 11.3p, in line with 2022.

Pitts said: “2023 was another year of strong strategic progress for STV as we delivered revenue growth of 22% and exceeded the stretching 3-year diversification targets we set ourselves to double the size of our digital business and quadruple our Studios business, ending the year with 75% of our profit coming from outside traditional broadcasting, well ahead of our 50% target.

Despite the challenging commissioning environment, STV Studios had a standout 2023, with revenues almost trebling and operating profit up 280%, propelled by fantastic dramas like Criminal Record for AppleTV+ and Screw for C4 and the transformative acquisition of Greenbird.

“Our audience position remains unrivalled, with STV the most-watched peaktime TV channel in Scotland for the 5th year in a row in 2023, ahead of BBC1, and nearly double the commercial audience of Netflix. STV Player growth also continued to accelerate, with streams up a further 28%, driving digital profit up 16%.

“Our overall financial performance was impacted by weak linear advertising and cost inflation, as expected and related to the challenging UK macro environment, although the start of 2024 has been more encouraging.

“Q1 total advertising is expected to be up around 5% and we have a strong H1 schedule to come, culminating in live coverage of UEFA Euro 2024 featuring both Scotland and England. In January we also increased our stake to a majority in leading drama producer Two Cities, who have already secured £55m of future revenues across 3 high-end drama series.

“Over the last 6 years STV has been successfully transformed into a digital-first media company with a high-growth streaming service and one of the UK’s leading production groups, and we have today set out further ambitious targets for the next phase of profitable growth.

“With STV’s latest diversification targets fully achieved, now is the right time to plan a smooth and orderly succession. As such I have informed the board that I will step down as CEO over the next 12 months to take up a new appointment beginning in Q1 2025.”